Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson discussed future plans for student financial aid liaison positions and plans for a financial aid call center Monday at the student’s senate meeting.
Hudson informed students that future changes regarding financial aid made by the federal government would affect Florida A&M students who receive funding through Pell grants.
According to Hudson, 15 paid positions for student liaisons will be available to students who meet the criteria set by the university.
Student liaisons will be able to assist the office of financial aid with special projects, navigate students though the financial aid process, on-campus customer support and conduct trainings and town hall meetings after going through the proper training.
“I find that students react better to students,” Hudson said. “This is an opportunity for students to work with students.”
Hudson also said the university is working to open a call center sometime in the spring to assist the efforts of improving communication between students and workers in the financial aid office. The call center will eliminate the wait some students face financial aid.
“We want students to give road knowledge,” Hudson said. “We don’t want students handling any sensitive information or people’s records.”
Hudson said students will not have access to other students’ private information at any time while working as a liaison or in the call center and will only be giving information that does not involve the use of students’ personal records or data. To ensure that accurate information is being provided, advisers will also be available to assist students through the call center.
According to Hudson, the purpose of creating these student jobs is to better inform students on what is going on regarding finances and to produce income for some students.
“You’re getting the message out,” Hudson said. “Students are able to get the messages out clearly by using several different mediums, like Facebook and Twitter.”
Hudson said he and his administration stress the importance of the university giving back to its community. “We need to hire students to do a lot of these responsibilities, instead of hiring people from the outside.” Hudson said.
By creating job opportunities for students, Hudson said some students will be able to continue their educations without having to worry about a source of income.
Though Hudson said he believes student liaisons and the call center will help decrease some of the issues regarding financial aid, he does not think it will eliminate some of the problems students face with the current staff.
“I don’t think it will eliminate all issues,” Hudson said. “I think this will help us get students to be expeditious in submitting their documents on time so that they can be awarded early.”
The call center will give the office of financial aid the ability to handle issues with student accounts at a faster pace, according to Hudson.
“If there are any issues, we will be proactive instead of reactive,” Hudson said. According to Hudson, the numerous calls the office of financial aid receives daily makes it impossible for advisers to process applications and handle student issues in a timely manner.
Hudson also informed students that the university is advertising for the position of vice president of student affairs enrolment management. The university plans to fill the position by January. Hudson said there will be student representation on that search committee. The vice president of enrollment management will be responsible for handling student orientation, admissions, financial-aid and recruitment. Some students look forward to the idea of student liaisons helping with financial aid.
Darrius Washington, a senior business administration student from Tampa, said he thinks the new jobs will make it easier for students and faculty to get along.
“There is so much anger from students toward the people who work in financial aid because of how slow they move at times,” Washington said. “The students will be able to better inform peers on what is going on with financial aid because they will be working as a team and not in separate entities.” Sen.
Jeremy Dixon said Hudson has been a tremendous asset to the student body with his desire to make sure students and the student senate are aware of everything the administration is doing.
“I believe it’s a great idea,” Dixon said. “He has a clear idea, along with a plan and platform for students to be involved when it comes to issues that affect us.”
Dixon said the efforts to better financial aid and create jobs for students will empower students and give them the idea to spread information to peers to create a better environment for the campus.
Students who are interested in applying for the liaison positions will have to go through an interview process along with preparing a presentation.
The university is planning to have the call center and liaison positions ready for some time in the spring semester.
Hudson also informed students that applications for residency at the new 800-bed facility will be available in January. Hudson said female students will have priority for housing at the new facility because of the large female student population on campus and the closing of some female dorms this fall.
The university plans to open the facility for student living next fall. SGA Chief of Staff Sean Siders discussed the universities recent request for permission to enter negotiations with Metz Culinary Management Inc. and Aramark Higher Education at the last general board meetings.
“Students are the large consumers of food service on this campus,” Siders said. “Not only do they cover food, they contribute toward scholarships, capital improvement and meal options.” Siders said students should be concerned with the quality of the food they will be receiving in the future.
Over a 10-year timespan, Metz had no plans to contribute scholarships to students at the university, according to Siders. Sodexo contributed $400,000 in scholarship funds to the university yearly while serving as the food service company for the university.
With the opening of a new residence hall, Siders said it is important for the next food provider to be able to match the amount of money provided for student scholarships, along with being able to grow the university. Siders said students can voice their concerns to Student Body President Anthony Siders, who is a member of the board of trustees.