Financial aid; four weeks, same story

Although Burger King urges customers to “Have it your way,” and in the old days McDonald’s said, “We love to see you smile,” many students’ description of the customer service at FAMU would probably not be “I’m lovin’ it. “

The Foote-Hilyer Administration Center houses several departments, some of which many students regularly complain about customer service.

The various offices handle customer service differently.

The Office of the Registrar tends to only have a high volume of customers at the beginning and end of each semester.

In order to keep lines down, an official said they try a proactive approach.

An administrative assistant to the registrar said the department sends letters to students in advance to inform them of conditions that might hinder registration, such as academic suspension. If complaints arise, there are customer service surveys available in every office.

While the financial aid office did not release any comments, a receptionist in student financial services said the Division of Student Affairs handles customer service complaints.

Robert Baulkmon, senior clerk in student affairs, said that University staff is “working as diligently as we can to solve the problems.”

The Division of Student Affairs has jurisdiction over student health, student activities, campus recreation, special services, law enforcement, the career center, recruitment, scholarships, admissions, housing and numerous other departments.

When students have complaints, they should take them to the head of that particular department.

For financial aid concerns, this person is James McMillan.

Once a complaint is received, the administrator will review it, investigate and make an administrative decision. A student can appeal the decision only if it is necessary.

Courtney Campbell, 19, a sophomore business administration student from Detroit, said she has visited the Foote-Hilyer building about two times a week since her return to Tallahassee this semester.

During one particular trip, Campbell said she stood in line for four hours for an issue she believed could have taken 30 seconds to correct on the Internet. She was then told that the information was not available and to come back in three to five days.

Many students have a problem with what they perceive to be the disorganization of the financial aid department. Campbell stressed that her issue was not with the people with whom she interacted.

“They’re just doing what they were instructed to do,” she said. Instead, her issue lies with management. She said students have classes to attend as well, but they waste significant amounts of time in line only to receive insignificant information or to be told things they already knew.

One student accounts representative told Campbell she had all summer to come down and fix her situation. This might be true Campbell said, if she had been able to get through on the phone lines or if she was not an out-of-state student.

A lack of customer service, paired with tuition fees that are $400 more than the fees of in-state students, is enough to discourage some non-residents from attending.

SGA President Ramon Alexander, a 21-year-old political science student from Tallahassee, wants students to know that when customer service issues arise, one of the first steps to take is to go to elected student representatives.

There is a complaint form in SGA that students can fill out, but they can also speak to Alexander or Phillip Agnew, student body vice president. In addition, concerns can be voiced to Ashley Bolar, the secretary of student welfare, or any SGA official.

Alexander said financial aid developments are in the works to better facilitate service.

Administrators are trying to integrate the Enterprise Resource Planning System in order to prevent students from having to. stand in line.

Contact Driadonna Roland at