USG Discusses Concerns with Enrollment Services

Student Concern with Financial Services is Addressed


Published: October 5, 2010

On Monday, Sept. 20, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)’s United Student Government (USG) met with Peter Stace, vice president of Enrollment Services, Patricia Peek, director of admissions, and Barbara Wakie, campus director of Student Financial Services, to discuss ways to improve the relationship between students and the office of financial aid.

According to Brandi D’Esposito, FCLC ’11 and president of USG, the meeting functioned to “open the dialogue more than find a specific solution.”

“We were talking about some of the ways we can avoid a letter [like the one sent out in August] in the future and make a better line of communication between [Enrollment Services] and students.” D’Esposito said.

D’Esposito said USG wants to “figure out what doesn’t work, how we can fix it, and how we can improve people’s experience in general.”

The meeting was held in regards to a letter that was sent to all students with outstanding balances on Aug. 12, informing them that if they did not pay their tuition by Aug. 20, they would be removed from their fall classes. This letter stirred up much controversy among students at FCLC, prompting USG to intervene.

The meeting was also held to “propose a collaboration between USG and Enrollment/Financial Services to develop stronger communication with the student body on financial and student account issues,” Peek said.

Ryan O’Toole, vice president of student affairs, said USG would be taking action to prevent this situation from occurring in the future.  Now that the fall semester has begun, USG said they are working on this issue.

A major concern among students was the tone in which the letter was written, which Enrollment Services claims was meant to be helpful to students.

D’Esposito said, “Our concerns were made very clear and were indeed understood. They realize that students have issues with financial aid and that we need to come up with sturdy solutions to make life easier for the student body, including the fact that students were frustrated with the tone of the letter sent out this summer.”

As a result of this meeting, D’Esposito said, “I hope that Enrollment takes the concerns we relayed into consideration, as well as some of the suggestions we made. They seemed willing to work with us to change some of the problem areas of the department.”

Some suggestions USG made to Enrollment Services include annual mandatory meetings with financial aid counselors so students don’t fall behind on payments and have ample time to resolve their financial situations, as well as a designated counselor for each grade, much like a dean, for students to go to with problems.

Another suggestion was to hang a sign near the Enrollment Services window stating that if a student needs to make an appointment with a counselor, they can inquire at the window to do so, since the representatives at the front window are not financial counselors.

This would address another major concern students have with Enrollment Services because students often rely on the representatives to solve their financial problems when they are not qualified to do so.

Peek said, “We want to change the perception that students do not have access to counselors. Our Enrollment Services representatives have been trained to assist students as much as possible so that they can take care of all their needs in ‘one stop.’ We do acknowledge however, that some students are more comfortable speaking with a counselor.”

Stace said, “Recent communications to students regarding overdue balances already reflect adjustments in light of the concerns raised by the USG officers. Other changes will be forthcoming as we continue to talk.”

USG and Enrollment Services plan to meet again in the future to ensure there is an open line of communication between students and administrators. “One meeting is never enough,”  Peek said. “We have begun a dialogue around the issues and have scheduled a follow-up meeting to talk about next steps in improving communication. With proper planning, we can assist students in a smooth processing of financial aid, billing and enrollment in classes.”

D’Esposito said that in addition to solving past problems, “We also may be working with them to host some forums where students can be educated about the process.”

Peek said, “I think that we need to change the perception that financial issues should only be addressed on a semester-to-semester basis. College is a four-year commitment and financing that commitment should be viewed in those long-range terms. Our commitment, with USG’s help, is to bring this educational process to more students in our community in order to help them now and to give them tools they need to be successful after college.”