Enrollment Group Responds to USG Financial Aid Reform


These glass windows on the second floor of Lowenstein will be removed by the Fall 2011 semester. (Sara Azoulay/The Observer)


These glass windows on the second floor of Lowenstein will be removed by the Fall 2011 semester. (Sara Azoulay/The Observer)

Published: May 4, 2011

In response to student proposals for financial aid reform, the Fordham University Enrollment Group (FUEG) has finalized a plan that includes training enrollment staff with their “Code of Ideals” and removing the glass windows in the bursar office on the second floor of Lowenstein.

According to Ryan O’Toole, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’12 and vice president of student affairs, students were frustrated by a situation that occurred last August, when they received a letter informing them that they had to pay all outstanding balances within a short time period or be dropped from their fall 2010 classes.

“That letter specifically was a big trigger for [United Student Government (USG)].” O’Toole said. “[It was] the eye opener to financial aid because they realized there was a very strong student backlash against that letter and they realized it was definitely something they needed to work on.”

Patricia Peek, associate director of Lincoln Center’s Enrollment Group, said, “It is never pleasant to hear you are falling short of expectations. We hoped this would be a good opportunity to gather specific information that we could act upon to make the improvements students want to see.”

After surveying over 500 students last semester, O’Toole and USG gathered the information and worked closely with Peek, Peter Stace, vice president of Enrollment Services, and Barbara Wakie, campus director of Student Financial Services, to prepare for the reform and responses.

Peek said, “The response provided a mechanism to continue the dialog that began this year and identified ways to help the staff be better at what they do.”

Within the response, FUEG introduced a Code of Ideals for its staff to follow, which will “document performance levels, guide continuous quality improvement, monitor student satisfaction and identify needed system enhancements.”

O’Toole said that financial aid packages are a sensitive topic and the staff needs to understand that. In reference to the code, O’Toole said, “They are adopting a new mission of being very customer service friendly, being very open, helpful and receptive to students. We want there to be a more personal connection with financial aid.”

In addition to the FUEG proposed mission, O’Toole said that the glass windows on the second floor of Lowenstein would be removed “to make conversations easier.”

Peek said she is working with Lowenstein facilities to have the windows removed before the opening of the fall semester.

“The staff are as glad as the students to see the windows go,” she said. “It will be easier to converse face-to-face and the new design will also reduce the level of ambient noise from the lounge making it more comfortable for all concerned.”

Peek also said, “It required thoughtful planning to create a space that both meets the need for greater access to representatives and counselors by students while providing a secure and professional space for the staff.”

O’Toole said that this response has provided the “groundwork of what will be a great improvement to the department and we definitely want to go even further in the reform next year.”

Peek also wants this relationship with USG to carry onto next year and said, “We plan to continue working closely with USG to plan outreach activities that students value. The Enrollment Group is committed to be a source of information and guidance in planning, not just a place to resolve outstanding financial issues.”

The entire FUEG response to USG’s financial aid reform can be found on www.fordham.edu/usglc.