USG Surveys Students About Financial Aid


Published: December 10, 2010

Since the summer discrepancy over Enrollment Services’ means of collecting overdue balances, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC)’s United Student Government (USG) has worked to improve the student and Financial Aid office relationship.  On Nov. 19, all undergraduate and graduate students at the Lincoln Center campus received an online survey sent by USG.

“We created this survey so we can get a better idea of what specifically [student’s] concerns are regarding the office and what specifically [they] are looking to be changed,” Ryan O’Toole, FCLC’12 and vice president of Student Affairs, said.

“[Enrollment Services] wanted to see some substantial data showing student feedback calling for changes in the office before they made any changes themselves.”

USG and Financial Aid administrators worked together to create a “comprehensive survey that covers all aspects of Financial Aid at FCLC,” O’ Toole said. “We then worked to craft a survey that we could release to the student body to gauge their opinion towards the office and see what ideas they had to improve the office and how it works.”

Despite efforts by USG through e-mails and Facebook events, not many students participated in the survey during the opening weeks, according to USG. One student mentioned why she did not take the survey.

Kusum Dhansinghani, FCLC ’13, said, “I haven’t gotten to the survey yet this past week because finals are approaching and I haven’t even thought about financial aid since the summer.

“I didn’t feel the urge to take the survey right away because I also didn’t have any major complaints about financial aid— I’m content with my package.”

USG originally planned to open the survey for two weeks and close on Dec. 2. However, the closing date was postponed to Dec. 6.

“We decided to push the deadline for the survey until [Dec. 6] to ensure that we received as many responses as possible,” O’ Toole said.  “As of early last week, we had around 225 responses, but we wanted at least 400 to make the data more credible.”

The decision to push back the closing date proved successful for USG’s goal. As of Dec. 3, 400 completed surveys were submitted, according to O’Toole.

He continued, “We know that [the Financial Aid Office] is more likely to take the results of our survey seriously if we receive at least 400 responses, and we felt that it was more important to extend the deadline to get more responses than rush the process.”

As for the FCLC students who did partake in the survey, they shared their reaction and what they hope the future relationship holds.

Marc Valentin, FCLC ’11, who received the outstanding balance letter in August, said that he found USG’s survey very straightforward and said, “I hope that the information from the survey can be used to make the financial aid process more open and personal.

“I hope that the survey can be a source of constructive criticism that Financial Services can use to improve itself,” Valentin said. “It seems as though the people further up the ladder don’t interact with students that often, so the survey should give them an outsider’s view of their performance.”

Monica Hanna, FCLC ’12, said, “I thought that the survey had very good questions that allowed me to express my opinions and experience with Financial Aid.

“I’m hoping that USG and Financial Aid can use the answers of the student body to enhance the services offered by Financial Aid employees.”

Through the responses received from students, O’ Toole said that USG will know what students are looking for in their Financial Aid office.  He said, “We will take these concerns, complaints and suggestions about the office and draft specific proposals to the Financial Aid office on how to change it to make it work better for the student body.”

USG has already met with the Financial Aid office several times this school year, and also collaborated with them in October for the Enrollment Services’ 2010 Fall Fest where students were able to meet with Financial Aid representatives.

O’ Toole said that USG will continue to work together until the end of this semester.  “We want to work with the office to make it work as efficiently as possible so that students obtain the best service and the best aid,” O’Toole said, “In order to do that, we plan to propose changes to the Financial Aid office before Christmas break.”

Kevin Quaratino, FCLC ’13, commented on USG’s joint effort between students an Enrollment Services and said, “Overall I am optimistic, and I think it is really wonderful that the different branches of our university can come together and discuss prevalent, yet sensitive, issues in order to better student life, and ultimately Fordham’s efficiency as a business oriented academic institution.”

O’ Toole said, “We are confident that by working with Enrollment Services that we can truly make real and substantial change happen that will benefit the students and make the Financial Aid office work better for their interests.”