By: Sarah Schulde
Financial aid is a complicated and crucial part of college. Over half of the student population applies for financial aid. Financial aid is assistance from the state or federal government to help fund college expenses. Financial aid eligibility is based upon the financial status of your income and your parents’ income. To receive financial aid one must fill out FASFA applications and forms. This process alone can take anywhere from a half hour to three hours. Make sure all of your files and forms are filled out and filed by deadlines. Once forms are filled out and filed they then have to be processed. After processing and your ATB (ability to benefit) is determined you then have to arrange an appointment to meet with a Financial Aid Advisor. All appointments are walk-ins only.
Financial advisors are available to meet Monday through Friday 8:30a.m. – 6:30p.m in the Wilson West Building. As for appointments, they are on a first come first served basis. It is recommended by students and advisors to schedule plenty of time for your walk-in appointment. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours before seeing a Financial Advisor or a Financial Aid Technician. Some cases require more than one visit to the Financial Aid Office. This makes the financial aid process very time consuming and tedious. Most college students already have overbooked schedules caused by jobs, classes, and homework. This makes making time for financial aid visits almost impossible.
Some suggestions to help make your Financial Aid Office visits more pleasant and efficient are: make sure all paperwork is complete, do not wait until the last minute to file FASFA, and hand in all forms. Also students, make sure you take care of all responsibilities on your end. Following these simple steps can make the students’ and Financial Advisors’ jobs both easier. Financial Aid Advisor Manager, Steve Dambrosio, recommended these easy tasks. Dambrosio and other Financial Aid Techs see about 75-80 students a day, each walk-in appointment taking anywhere from two minutes to 20 minutes. The Financial Aid Office also needs to better their phone services. To speed up the process, students such as Juan Hincapie, who majors in Business and is a resident of Cherry Hill, recommends that the Financial Aid Office answers certain questions over the phone. Hincapie reports calling numerous times and waiting over 30 minutes before someone even answered. Bettering this service would help reduce the number of walk-in appointments and save the students’ time, energy, and effort.
The majority of the student population stops by or calls the Financial Aid Office with questions or issues. It is the students’ job to be prepared and have completed all their responsibilities and follow-ups before seeking help from the Financial Aid Office. It is the job of the Financial Aid Advisors and Technicians to then complete and award students their files who are eligible. Keep in mind financial aid is a complex and timely process so students make sure you stay on top of your follow ups and hand in all paperwork and forms by deadlines. With faculty, staff, and students working together we can make the Financial Aid Services better, faster, and more efficient.