Office of Financial Aid must communicate efficiently, offer more support to students

Pictured above is a student in theGeneseo Office of Financial Aid located in Erwin Hall Room 104. Electronic communication from the office lacks specificity and faculty members must make efforts to keep students more informed. (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)

For the most part, Geneseo does an incredible job of keeping students updated on school events and making sure the student body is informed. It is clear, however, that this same level of urgency to inform is not extended to students’ financial aid.

It seems that Geneseo is hesitant to keep its students updated on forms, refunds and payments that they may need to know about until it is convenient for the school. The Office of Financial Aid is quick to send you an e-bill, but rarely includes explicitly stated details on what it is for or why that charge is being required. The one thing they do make clear, however, is the pay date.

It is unsettling that there are rarely receipts or explanations in emails from the Office of Financial Aid. In addition, if they are included, students, like myself, are unsure how to seek out and interpret this information. 

In order to remain on top of financial aid information, it is necessary to make routine trips to the office and ask multiple, specific questions. Sometimes, students are directed to the Office of Student Accounts that will probably direct a student back to the Office of Financial Aid.

The lack of knowledge and constant communication seems like a ping-pong game that is not fun to play, especially when a student’s money is at hand. It is, not to mention, time consuming and stressful along with all the other tasks students have to complete.

Another major issue in terms of financial aid at Geneseo is credit hours. I know countless students, including myself, who have had their classes dropped before the semester begins over a missing signature or a loan that has not come through yet. This also results in a charge on their bill. 

As a student who has struggled with the Office of Financial Aid and the way Geneseo handles billing, it seems Geneseo unrealistically expects students to have a certain understanding and patience when loans are misplaced and refunds are held up. When time is of the essence and money is on the line, it is not impractical for students to expect urgency and consideration when it comes to the Office of Financial Aid.

There should be active transparency between the students and the Office of Financial Aid. If there was less hostility and pressure when students came in confused and worried about their financial status, the process would operate more smoothly.  

It appears there are very few faculty members in the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Student Accounts who take the time to make phone calls and answer personal emails to ensure that each individual student receives the pertinent information. In the past, it seems that students often got the raw end of the deal and had to cope with the issues without feeling Geneseo was fully supporting them.

To avoid this, increased clarity from the Office of Financial Aid is necessary. Students must be aware of what is going on with their aid and how they can move forward to solve any issues that arise. It is easy for us as students to get overwhelmed by the process of applying, receiving and dealing with financial aid, so it is imperative we feel comfortable asking for help and know that our questions and worries will be well received.

There must be a better information line from the Office of Financial Aid to the students on this campus. Whether it is in the form of a list of documents that need to be completed or fees that students are being charged, there should be more detailed explanations than a one-line email.