Once you have been in contact with the project coordinator, please submit a letter providing confirmation of institutional participation in the Student Financial Wellness Survey (SFWS). This letter should be signed by a senior campus official (e.g., President, Vice President, Dean of Students) and must include:
- Permission to conduct research on campus, pending all necessary institutional processes and approvals.
- Permission to share publicly that the institution participated in the Student Financial Wellness Survey. Trellis requires this permission in order to highlight the national footprint and generalizability of the
This letter can be scanned and submitted electronically. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to your Trellis contact.
|SAMPLE LETTER OF INSTITUTIONAL AWARENESS/SUPPORT|
|To whom it may concern,
I am writing to provide confirmation that [College/ University] is participating in the Student Financial Wellness Survey, implemented by Trellis. I am aware that Trellis intends to conduct research at our institution by administering an online survey to a sample of our students.
As [Title], I grant Trellis permission to conduct research at [College/University], pending all necessary institutional processes and approvals. I also grant permission for Trellis to share publicly that [College/ University] participated in the Student Financial Wellness Survey.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my office at [phone number] or [email address].
Your institution may require approval from its Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to administration of the SFWS. Oftentimes an IRB will waive review due to the nature of the project, but some IRBs will want to review the study before approving the project on campus. Your Trellis contact will work with you to provide all materials necessary for IRB review and to obtain all necessary IRB documentation of waived review and/or approval.
Note for IRB approval: To encourage response rates and protect student anonymity, Trellis will not provide participating institutions student-level responses from the SFWS. In addition, Trellis will obtain student consent to utilize their educational records in analysis of survey responses.
Institutions will provide a roster of students via secured file transfer to Trellis for implementation of the survey and to analyze results (Data 1 Request). The Data 1 Request is required to send survey invitations to students and to determine the degree to which respondents are representative of the population. Please check with your Trellis contact for the time frame when the data are due.
Trellis is requesting the enrolled population for the survey (includes all enrolled students over 18 years of age). This is to ensure there are enough responses to perform detailed cross tabulations (i.e., enough granularity to answer the types of questions that will be most helpful to your school). Institutions with enrollment above 10,000 students may, by request, provide a random sampling of 5,000 students from their population.
Please provide the contact and demographic information (Data 1 Request) outlined in the table below. A data dictionary detailing the format of the data request will be provided by your Trellis contact after your institution provides the letter of institutional support. Your Trellis contact will also provide instructions to setup the secure FTP (File Transfer Protocol) system. Data files should be provided in CSV format. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY FILES CONTAINING STUDENT DATA THROUGH EMAIL, ONLY THROUGH OUR SECURE CRUSH FTP SYSTEM.
|Data 1 Request: Institutional Sample and Demographic Fields|
|Email 1||Institutionally assigned email address|
|Email 2||Secondary email address for the student|
|First Name||Student first name|
|Last Name||Student last name|
|Unique SFWS Student Identifier (Not the official institutional student ID)||It is our preference that this not be the official student ID. A unique student identifier that can be used with a crosswalk to potentially match survey responses to future data elements provided by the institution for additional analysis. If there are issues creating a unique identifier that is not the official institutional student ID, please discuss with your Trellis contact.|
|Age||Age of student (Not date of birth)|
|Race/Ethnicity||Race/Ethnicity of student|
|Gender||Gender of student|
|Credit Hours||The number of credit hours the student had enrolled in for the semester|
|Total Credits Earned||Total credit hours earned at institution as of the end of the prior semester|
To ensure the survey invitation from Trellis is received and not marked as junk mail, you and your Trellis contact will need to work with your school’s IT department. Making certain that the survey invitations are “white-listed” is the most important component to ensuring a good survey response rate. A higher response rate to the SFWS implementation on your campus may facilitate a more accurate representation of your student body.
The white listing can be temporary, but sufficiently long to last the survey period. Trellis will only contact your students about the survey and will not communicate with them for any other purpose.
Trellis will provide a recommended schedule and sample language for your institution to communicate to students about the survey. This communication can improve survey response rates. We request that your institution send an email to students prior to the survey to inform them the survey is coming and two reminder emails during the survey implementation.
Marketing and incentives are a good way to get higher response rates from your students. Trellis will provide survey-wide incentives across all participating institutions. However, providing your own incentives and educating students about the importance of completing the survey is highly encouraged. Your Trellis contact will consult with you about best practices for marketing and providing incentives.
After the survey closes, Trellis will send a list of the unique student identifiers for those students who consented to participate in the survey and have select education records matched with their survey responses (Data 2 Request). Providing this match of select education records will allow researchers to:
- Link survey responses to specific student characteristics, enrollment patterns, and academic success metrics.
- Integrate non-self-reported student data into survey analysis for greater validity and relevance.
- Allow for a more comprehensive analysis of student success indicators.
|Data 2 Request: Data Match for Survey Participants|
|Unique SFWS Student Identifier (provided from Data I request)||Must not be the official student ID. The unique SFWS student identifier used by the institution in the Data 1 request.|
|Cumulative GPA||Current cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale.|
|SAP||Has the student met satisfactory academic progress standards?|
|Prior Enrollment Status Flag||Has the student withdrawn from school at least once in the past 3 semesters?|
|Outstanding Balance||Does the student currently have an outstanding balance with the institution?|
|Permanent Resident||Is the student a permanent U.S. resident?|
|Type of degree student in pursuing||What type of degree the student is pursuing?|
|Major Declaration||What is the 6-digit CIP code of the major the student has declared?|
|Financial Account Hold||Does the student have any financial holds with the institution?|
|Credit Card Tuition or Fees Payment||Has the student paid for any part of tuition or fees with a credit card?|
|Unmet Need [Optional]||What was the student’s unmet need for the current year, if any?|
Your Trellis contact is available to discuss Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations and how institutions that have participated in prior SFWS implementations interpreted the permissibility to provide the SFWS data requests. For additional context on data sharing, you can also visit the resources below.
- U.S Department of Education’s student privacy website: https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) Data Sharing Decision Tree: https://www.nasfaa.org/uploads/documents/Data_Sharing_Decision_Tree_2019.pdf
Data security and student privacy is of the utmost importance to Trellis. This project utilizes procedures and protocols to safeguard student anonymity and confidentiality and to protect against a breach in data security. Potential participants in the SFWS should be aware that these protocols represent reasonable precautions but cannot eliminate the risk of data breaches or the connection of data to their identities.
Types of data and records
- Survey response data
Survey response data refers to all student-level information collected through Trellis’ SFWS tool as a component of participation in the study.
- Education records
Student-level records will be used to provide context and analysis for response data making the resulting reports more decision-focused for the institution. Students will be fully informed of Trellis’ data security and records retention protocol and informed of potential risks associated with sharing data with personally identifiable information. Proof of digital consent will be stored in a secure, password-protected folder on Trellis’ secured servers.
- Survey response data
Storage and destruction
Survey response data and education records will be located on Trellis’ servers, will be password protected, and will be accessible only from computers connected to Trellis’ internal network. All computers will be locked and password protected when not in use. Furthermore, access to the files will be limited to the Research team with role-based access. The data will not be transmitted via external email servers, will not be loaded onto external storage devices, and no physical printouts will be made.
All digital copies of personally-identifiable survey response data or personally-identifiable education records from the SFWS data transfers from institutions will be deleted no later than 5 months from the survey implementation date. All digital copies of de-identified survey response data and education records held by the SFWS will be deleted no later than ten years from the survey implementation date.
Trellis Company has nearly 40 years of experience as responsible stewards of student data. Trellis adheres to a consolidated matrix of security controls that incorporates NIST Moderate Controls, GLBA, and a number of other security frameworks. Data stores are maintained on encrypted network SAN storage in compliance with NIST moderate controls. Our servers are maintained to those same controls, using CIS benchmarks. Identity and Access Management also adheres to NIST moderate controls. Access is role-based and denied by default. All data is backed up for recovery purposes and stored on encrypted media. Data will be destroyed according to the Student Financial Wellness Survey policies described previously. Trellis has a strict asset disposal procedure, all storage media, such as hard drives or tapes are destroyed and rendered unrecoverable prior to disposal.
“The University of Oklahoma was extremely interested in participating in Trellis’ Student Financial Wellness Survey in the Spring 2018 semester. By participating in the survey we hope to include our students’ input into the national financial wellness data measures being collected. We plan to utilize this important research to further refine our various student financial services offered at the University of Oklahoma and to ensure we are addressing and targeting the actual needs of students as indicated in the final results.”
“The Student Financial Wellness Survey has been a great resource for Palo Alto College. It has provided our entire community with strong research documenting the extent to which our students are struggling financially. We are already using the findings from the survey to inform our strategic planning and better support our students.”
“The Trellis team was a pleasure to deal with, responding to clarifying questions throughout the planning and implementation process for the Student Financial Wellness Survey in a very timely manner as well as going above and beyond to provide documentation and supplemental information to help inform decision-making about the implementation across our institutions.”
“This survey was a great “return on investment” for our campus! Having this snapshot of our students’ financial knowledge on various topics informs our financial literacy efforts to make the content more timely and applicable to our student body. We even received information on housing and food insecurity, which was an added benefit to this easy-to-administer survey.”
“The experience working with Trellis was very simple and smooth process. The data and perspective we received on students financial wellness is extremely valuable. This information will improve the Financial Learning Ambassador programming on all six Valencia College campuses. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity to ask crucial financial wellness questions to our students.”