This fall, Northwest Mississippi Community College students will find a new and improved student portal that will provide them with a “one-stop shop” for information. Students will be able to instantly access information about their grades, schedules, financial aid and degree plan using the new portal.
In May, the Northwest Communications office sponsored a social media contest to name the new portal. Northwest students chose to call their new portal “myNWCC.” Students will access the portal on the college’s website, just as they did before. “In the past, students mainly went to the portal to check their grades,” said Denise Vannucci, help desk coordinator. “Now there is so much more.”
Login information is provided to students by the college, but if a student loses or forgets the password, Vannucci said that there will also be a link under myNWCC where students can request to have the password sent to them. “We get a lot of calls at the help desk with people asking us for their Student ID number and password. We really cannot give that information on the phone, because we have to protect the student’s identity and privacy. It’s important for students to keep up with their login information when they get it,” Vannucci said.
The Financial Aid office is using the portal to communicate with students. Students will only receive one letter from the Financial Aid Office when they receive their FAFSA, which will tell them how to log in and what to look for.
“We spent over $50,000 last year mailing letters that the majority of people never responded to. We need to keep costs down, so we are not going to do that again. All of our communication will be through myNWCC and student webmail,” said Terry Bland, director of Financial Aid.
One of the Financial Aid features available through the portal includes the ability to check their financial aid status. If there are additional documents needed or other requirements, they will be directed to the Northwest website for instructions on how to respond. Once their aid is awarded, students can find out what kind of award they have and exactly what it can be used for. Students can also view the Federal tax form 1098-T if they pay cash or use loans.
“Everything they need should be there to tell them what they need and how to get it,” Bland said. “In the end they can call us. We will try to help them in any way we can, but they should start with myNWCC.”
He also stressed that federal law will not allow students who have not declared a major to receive financial aid. “You cannot mark ‘undeclared’ and receive financial aid. You need to declare a major in order to receive financial aid,” Bland said.
He added that this type of one-stop portal is already being used in the four-year universities and that Northwest is helping acclimate students to it before they transfer. “If they can use this to respond and provide us with what we need instead of calling us, it gives us more time to process their files instead of answering questions they can easily look up at myNWCC,” Bland said.
In addition to financial information, myNWCC includes access to unofficial transcripts. At the end of each semester, that semester’s grades will be added to the unofficial transcripts. Students will be able to print their transcripts through the portal. Other features include a scheduling tab with a display course feature that allows students to access the class schedule and make decisions about when and where courses are offered. Students can also view their degree plan and be able to see what requirements they have met for their degree and what else they need to complete. “They still need to visit their adviser, but the degree plan should reflect exactly what is in the college bulletin, “Vannucci said.
Students will still be able to view their grades, personal information, including their adviser and classification, and dorm information if applicable. Students even have the ability to print enrollment verification from the portal. “Sometimes people need this for their taxes or for their employer, and they can either print it or do a screen shot and email it,” Vannucci said.
Both Vannucci and Bland stressed the importance of using the portal for information. “This is different from Canvas, which we use now instead of Blackboard. This will even be available after the student leaves Northwest, as long as they have their login information,” Vannucci said. “The students who have used it are already loving it. It gives them real time information,” Bland added.
For more information, visit the Northwest website at www.northwestms.edu.