Newly Improved Online Software from ISM Changing the Face of Financial Aid Application Process


FAST, Independent School Management’s user-friendly online financial aid processing service, has streamlined what was once a laborious and painstaking paper-based ordeal into a fully interactive, simple, and easy-to-use online application.

"I was pleasantly surprised by the convenience and ease of this application process. Everything was very well explained and clearly stated. Thank you!"
-Parent from Lycée Français de Chicago, IL

The parent application side of FAST is laid out clearly in sections, and every line of the application that asks for a number has an associated "help bubble" that explains the field in detail. There is also a downloadable paper worksheet to help organize the information FAST requests.

"This system was very easy to use and your expected time frame was correct. It only took 26 minutes to complete!"
-Parent from Canisius High School, NY

Once parents have all the documents necessary to complete the application—tax forms, mortgage information, etc.—it takes, on average, about 45 minutes to one hour. FAST is designed to save the information that parents have input, allowing them to complete the application at their convenience, in a single sitting or over the course of several days.

FAST is designed for all kinds of families, and separated or divorced parents can fill out the application from different locations at different times. Financial information is kept separate and private, which is particularly helpful in cases of joint custody. FAST also offers outstanding year-round, 24/7 bilingual customer support to make the application process painless and easy. Parents can call in or e-mail their questions—whichever they prefer.

"This was much easier than the one we used last year and the year before. Thank you!"
-Parent from Vistamar School, CA

Perhaps the most important feature available in these tough economic times, FAST allows families to explain their current financial situation and any circumstances that may not be fully reflected in the numbers they are providing. This supplemental information allows schools to respond to current financial crises and support these families by adjusting their applications, thanks to FAST's unique flexibility.

Additional FAST features include:

  • Voucher system for parents who don't have a credit card.
  • NO credit card information is stored by FAST, and NO Social Security numbers are required to complete the application.
  • All information is security encoded and housed on servers that use up-to-date security precautions.
  • Browser-based access means no special software or compatibility issues to navigate.

FAST is not a software company that decided to work with schools. FAST is powered by ISM, a family-owned and operated business founded by a former private school Head. For the past 36 years, ISM’s primary goal has been to help private-independent schools advance their missions through sound, research-driven management strategies. FAST was developed with this goal in mind, providing a fair and equitable need-analysis system that incorporates school and student family needs in order to make accurate financial aid award decisions. FAST helps educational institutions fulfill their mission, fill seats, and make the best possible student award decisions on a case-by-case basis.

Visit the FAST Web site.


Who is ISM?


  • ISM has worked with private-independent schools to advance their management, governance, and sustainability since 1975.
  • The firm works annually with 1,200 schools nationwide.
  • ISM services include on-site consulting, workshops, advisory publications, risk management and employee benefits, podcasts, presentations for associations and conferences, and the FAST financial aid program.
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