Thursday, February 9, 2023

Financial aid takes to Web; New system goes paper-free

August 30, 2001

Financial aid applicants no longer have to sign, seal and deliver their forms.

Seeking assistance is as simple as a click away.

Students have used the Internet for several months, but for the first time, the entire system is paperless, said Keith Williams, assistant director of the Office of Financial Aid.

“From the beginning to the end, students can complete the financial aid process,” he said. “Students can receive all the information over the Internet, from forms to notification of their aid.”

Rick Shipman, director of the Office of Financial Aid, said using the Internet cuts down on the cost of mailing out notices to students, but it also has several other benefits.

“This is also quicker and more up-to-date,” he said.

There have been mixed opinions about the new system, but most have been favorable, Shipman said.

“We don’t spam - if we send something, it is likely alerting students a deadline is approaching to apply for aid and we haven’t received any forms from them,” he said.

There was a 10.2 percent increase in applicants this year from last, and with applicant “numbers way up,” the Internet hasn’t caused students to stop applying, Shipman said.

“To be honest, some of the parent feedback has been negative, although this is still a very small percentage,” he said.

With many parents helping students such as Elizabeth Smerczak-Zorza, an education sophomore, with her financial aid, the online availability has been convenient, but at times a small pain.

“It’s easy because they always send me stuff and I forward it to my mom who takes care of my financial aid,” she said. “I have gotten false e-mails however where they have gotten wrong information and sent it to me.

“It’s only happened a few times, but it’s frustrating because my loan money won’t come in because forms didn’t get in. But on the upside it is fixed really quickly.”

Federal financial aid forms can be filled out at www.fafsa.com.

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