The job never stops in room 107, Bibb Graves, otherwise known as the Financial Aid Office. Work begins at 8 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m. or at least that is what the sign says. However, the employees of the Financial Aid Office often come early and stay late because they have to in order to get everything done.
What does the Student Financial Services department do exactly? They help us get everything in order for JSU students to go to college, but what all does that entail?
When asked, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Stephanie Miller said, “The better question is what do we not do?”
Some of their toughest work begins with first-time students because they are starting from scratch. The parents and students are lost and it is the job of the financial aid employees to work out a path for that potential student.
That means discussing what grants, loans and scholarships may or may not be available to that student.
It is their job and they do their absolute best to find the aid that the student needs.
The employees of the Financial Aid Office also have stacks of forms that need to be processed towering on their desks. That does not include the electronic forms that students can fill out online.
Miller said that on one occasion the office had about 3,000 e-forms that needed to be processed in one day.
The abundance of these forms is due to the fact that about 80% of the student body here at JSU receives some sort of financial aid.
In addition to processing forms everyday, they deal with students and parents calling, emailing and visiting with more questions. These questions and visits are welcomed by Student Financial Services.
Not only do they work on campus, but they also visit high schools to reach out to potential students. The office holds FAFSA filing days to help upcoming students and their parents.
They have to work under terms provided by the university, but they also have federal regulations to abide by.
These regulations may change from year to year so sometimes the Financial Aid Office must adjust the way things are done. This may seem like an annoyance to students, but it is done in order for JSU to keep its funding.
The Student Financial Services does all the work that is required of them, but also continues to add features to improve our system.
For example, the electronic forms students can now use is a relatively new addition. JSU also has a feature that sets itself apart from other schools.
“We have an open-door policy. Any student or parent can come in and talk to anyone in this office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. There is no appointment needed,” said Director Vickie Adams.
JSU also offers a wide variety of scholarships. In fact, Assistant Director of Scholarships and Veteran Affairs Martin Weldon already has a desk stacked high with completed applications.
Much of what the Scholarship and Veteran’s Affairs Office does is similar to that of the Financial Aid Office. In fact, the Scholarship and Veteran’s Affairs Office is just another division of it.
The Student Financial Services is divided between the Financial Aid Office, which handles loans and grants, and the Scholarship Office, which handles scholarships and VA benefits.
The workers of the Scholarship Office process scholarship and VA applications. If a student receives either, it becomes the job of this office to manage and credit that student’s account with the money awarded.
Not only does JSU have a website with about 200 different scholarship opportunities, but our school also accepts outside offers.
In fact, Weldon encourages students not to limit themselves to JSU resources. When it comes to school offered scholarships, it is very important to know that the application deadline is March 1 of every year.
“You can’t get selected if you don’t apply,” said Weldon.
Ultimately, the Student Financial Services Office relies on the students just as much as the students rely on them. Without them, students would be lost. Despite popular belief that the Financial Aid Office is a scary place, the workers are kind and welcoming.
“Our primary focus is the students and we love to see them succeed,” said Adams.