Coming Soon: a refresh for Populi Financial Aid

Some big updates are coming to Populi Financial in a few weeks. In addition to moving Financial over to our simpler, cleaner layout (which works great on mobile devices), we're expanding Populi's Financial Aid capabilities. Soon, you'll be able to:

  • Download ISIRs and automatically integrate the wealth of information they collect about prospects, students, and their parents
  • Manage financial aid awards at the year level
  • Automate batch disbursements at the Academic Term level
  • Automatically calculate Pell awards
  • Let students and prospects view and interact with their financial aid applications
  • Let students and prospects accept and decline awards online

Here's an overview of what's coming to Populi Financial:

Billing & Accounting

No big surprises in Billing and Accounting—we're simply updating them to the tabbed layout.

Financial Aid

Financial Aid, on the other hand, will look quite different.

Currently, Financial Aid is organized under Current (which shows Alerts, Disbursements, and Aid Applications), Reporting (which shows Aid by Year/Term, Disbursements, and 1098-Ts), and Settings (Application Components and Award Types). This reflects our earlier approach to Financial Aid as, primarily, as simply a way to pay down student balances in Billing.

After the upcoming release, Financial Aid will be organized under Awards, Aid Applications, Reporting, and Settings.


The new Awards tab will track awarded aid by year and student (effectively replacing the old Aid by Year and Aid by Term reports). It will also give you more useful tools for tracking Disbursements (including aid refunds) and enable Batch processing for awards and refunds.

Aid Applications

Aid Applications, once covered by a single report, now get a dedicated tab. In addition to the Aid Applications tracking tool, there's a new interface for Application Questions, which lets your Financial Aid staff interact with students puzzling over parts of their application.


In Reporting, you'll find Academic Progress and 1098-Ts. Academic Progress will replace Financial Aid Alerts and give you filtering tools to quickly find any students who've run afoul of any GPA or Credits/Hours requirements. 1098-Ts, of course, will be as simple as ever, with some improvements to how it collects and reports the relevant data.


Settings will be expanded. In addition to Application Components and Award Types , you'll be able to create Aid Classifications and Aid Year Schedules. Aid Classifications are "templates" which automatically add certain data and application components to your financial aid applicants. Aid Year Schedules let you set up batch disbursements set up for your Academic Years, allowing different schedules by Classification and Award Type.

Student Profiles

To accommodate the new functionality, we're giving the Financial tab on student profiles a new Financial Aid tab (and making some according changes on By Term). The new tab is devoted to Financial Aid information and summarizes Awards and Applications by year. It lets view all aspects of the student's (or prospect's!) aid application, manually manage disbursements,  and even print award letters. Students can come here to interact with their financial aid application—to ask questions, review their app, and accept or decline awards.

Of course, we're still hard at work on the new features, and so some of what's pictured here may change. But you get the general idea—soon you'll be able to use Populi (together with proprietary FSA* software like EDExpress) to manage the entire Financial Aid process for your students, from application all the way to disbursement.

We'll be following up with some more posts and some videos explaining the new workflows as we count down to the release.

*That is, Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education. It's a necessary evil, unfortunately.

Library Links

We released Library Links earlier this week. Now you can add organized lists of useful links and make them available to all your patrons. Very simple and, judging by our users' response to it thus far, very useful.

Populi Library

We're pleased to announce that we just released Populi Library to all our customers.

Populi Library is simple, lightweight library software designed with small colleges in mind. It lets you manage resources for multiple libraries and lets your patrons—students, faculty, staff, and others—find those resources, place holds, make recommendations, and leave reviews.

Multiple Libraries

Many schools, in addition to their main library, let their students access faculty and other libraries. Populi Library lets you manage as many libraries as you have and gives each Library the same features and abilities as the others. By treating each library as distinct but uniting them through one central, web-based point of entry, Populi Library makes things like advanced searching and Inter-library loans simple for staff and patron alike.


Every one of your library patrons—whether students, faculty, staff, or friends of the school—gets a library profile. Library profiles show a complete circulation history, so it's easy to see what resources anyone has on hold, checked out, or overdue. They also collect all of the Patron's reviews and recommendations. Reviews also feed into the Activity Feed on the Profile, so if a student is following a professor, the student will see a feed of that prof's reviews and recommendations.

Loan Policies and Fines

Populi Library tracks multiple loan policies for different libraries, resources, and patron types. If one of your patrons incurs a fine—for an overdue book or a lost resource—Library automatically keeps the tab and lets your patrons pay what they owe right at the counter.


Most Library searches are slow, dreary affairs. But Populi Library is search-centric and made to help you find things quickly. Fast and forgiving, it returns relevant results even if you misspell a search term. Search tools include a basic search field, an advanced search that lets you specify particular resource data, and an alphabetical subject search.

Resources and Circulation

Add new resources to your library just by typing or scanning a barcode, ISBN, ASIN, or other accepted code. Populi Library instantly retrieves basic resource information—title, author, cover image, and more—from or Open Library. Resource circulation puts all active loans, transits, and holds front and center so you always know what is where.

Keeping it Simple

We approached Populi Library the way we approach everything: by focusing on simplicity and ease of use. Your patrons need a simple way to search your catalog and find resources. You need an easy way to manage your collections, communicate with your patrons, stay on top of loans, and track fines. And that's just what Populi Library does.

Getting Started with Populi Library

To get started with Populi Library, submit a help request to let us know you're interested. We'll get to work on importing your MARC records, setting up your loan policies, and training your Library staff.

Our new notification system

We're also squeezing in another new feature today: Populi's in-app notification system.
It's a tool we'll use to let you know about new features, planned outages, and other notes of interest. It targets specific user roles, so if we release something chiefly of interest to, say, Admissions, we won't bother students with the notice. Usually it'll link to something that goes into more detail, like this blog or our Twitter feed. We think it'll be a great way to keep all of our users up to date on what's going on with Populi.

A few new items for the Online Application process

Friday afternoon we'll be releasing some minor enhancements to the Online Application process. They're little things, but we think they'll go a long way in helping your Admissions department keep up with your Prospects.

First, there's a new Admissions Setting that lets you enter email addresses for people who should be notified when a Prospect submits the online application. As soon as the Prospect clicks "Submit", Populi will send those people an email.
Next, we revised the initial interaction between the submitted application and the Prospect. Previously, upon submitting the application, the Prospect saw "Thanks for starting your application to Demo College. We'll send you an email soon that will let you log in and continue the process." There were two problems with this: One, because we didn't send notifications about online applications, it was easy to miss them. Consequently, it might take several days before they were imported and the Prospect was sent a login. Two, the initial welcome email from Populi often landed in the Prospect's spam folder—just about the last thing that needed to happen. We wanted to clarify what happens next—both for the prospect and your Admissions staff—while keeping important Populi emails out of the Prospect's spam folder.

Now when the Prospect clicks "Submit", he sees this message:

"Thank you! Please check your email for a note from Populi Notifications with further instructions. If it's not in your inbox, it might've landed in your spam folder!"

Then Populi Notifications sends them this email:

Thank you for starting your application with YourCollege University. Here's what happens next:

  1. We'll review your initial application in the next few days.
  2. Next, we'll create a user account for you in Populi, our online college management system.
  3. You'll receive an email from Populi Notifications that lets you create a password for your account.
  4. You can then log in at any time to work on the rest of your application.

You should get that next email in another day or two. To make sure it hits your inbox, mark this email as "Not Spam".

At the same time, it sends everyone listed in the new Admissions setting the following email (with all the items in bold replaced by information gathered from the submitted application):

First Name, Last Name has just submitted the initial online application through Populi! Go to Populi Admissions to import the application and get First Name started on the rest of it.

If you'd like to contact First Name, his/her email address is email address and his/her phone number is phone number. First Name is interested in the Program Program starting in Term.

Here's where we think this'll be really cool for your Admissions department. If you get this email on your iPhone (or any other smartphone, for that matter), you'll then be able to just tap to call or email the Prospect within minutes of them submitting the application. You can even enter an email-to-text address and get this info texted to you. This can help you engage the prospect while their application is still fresh in their minds—and you don't even need to be in the office when it happens.

We hope these enhancements help foster more meaningful interactions with your Prospects.