Financial Aid Presses On

Financial aid office thrives, despite absence of director

The search for a new Director of financial aid lingers on nine months after the departure of its former head.

Although the university advertised for the position and selected a potential replacement, that later declined, the search for the “best qualified” person continues.

Currently, Freda Donald is serving as interim director of the department. The level of urgency to find a new director, however, remains a top priority.

To some, the absence of a permanent director would leave the financial aid office in ruins. However, as financial aid employees point out, the department is in fact, thriving.

“More students were served this semester than in any other time in the University’s history and over $20 million awarded,” said Helen S. Inman, assistant director of financial aid.

“Technological advances coupled with additional staff members will help to increase these numbers,” said Jessena Jerger, scholarship coordinator.

But to many students, the financial aid process seems too slow and the financial aid office is viewed as a disaster area.

“With all the adjustments they claim to make every year, you would think that their service would improve at least five percent instead of declining 45 percent,” said Miesha Parrish, 21, a senior business education student from Miami.

Staff members are continuing their efforts to extinguish much of the negative feelings and shine a more positive light on the department. To enhance customer service and ease the concern of high phone bills for out-of-town callers, the department has already put into affect a new toll free Financial Aid line, 1-866-238-2318.

Donald believes that technological advances such as a new imaging system, which will allow the department to process and record financial aid forms electronically, will change the “too slow” process to a speedier level that students, parents and staff will greatly appreciate.

She said individuals should realize that students and the financial aid office are a team, with each one relying on the other.

“It takes a collaborative effort in order for students to get through the financial aid process,” Donald said.

“Look at it as if we are a team, of which you are the quarterback. The financial aid office cannot assist you until you throw us the ball. However, please do not wait until the fourth quarter, with seconds on the clock, to throw us the pass.”