Financial Aid Office Finds New Locale for New Needs

Dennis Tillman, director of the Office of Financial Affairs, stands before the office's new location in the Campus Center, which opened up for full service on Monday, Nov 27. Tillman says it will offer more individual counseling, a comfortable waiting area, and faster service for a growing number of students eligible for assistance.

Its number of students served having risen 60 percent in the last three years, the Office of Financial Aid made a timely move on Monday, Nov. 27, from the first floor of the Administration Building to larger quarters in the Campus Center.

The office's new locale, in the old site of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Campus Center, will provide essential space and accessibility for accommodating the growing needs and eligibility of the student body, which has been affected here as in colleges and universities across the country by this decade's changes in U.S. legislation regarding student loans.

"The higher education amendment of 1992 was the first thing that opened things up," says Dennis Tillman, financial aid director. "It revised 'needs analysis' so that more students were able to show financial need than before. Then the Stafford bank loans, beginning in 1993-94, went from being totally need-based to loans that could be partially subsidized and even non-subsidized.

"The resulting difference in financial aid here went from $28 million in 1992-93 to $55 million today, and that is mostly from loans — so yes, we have indeed grown."

The initiative to expand Financial Aid's space began in 1994 at the instruction of then President H. Patrick Swygert. "Our decision to re-locate was based on a student services issue," said Tillman, director of Financial Aid. "We are filling a need to handle a lot of cases differently that need that kind of attention. Now we can offer more private one-on-one counseling to students."

While many students will still be dealt with at the office's service desk, Tillman says that now theoretically as many as 10 students at a time can also be discussing their situations with counselors in private offices.

In addition, the new Campus Center B-52 offices will include a waiting area available for students to sit down and await the next available counselor. The waiting room is a large improvement for student convenience. "At times in the old offices they have had to sit on the floor in lines," said Tillman.

"Overall, we will be able to counsel students more effectively in a private environment," he said. "We can focus on our being a strong student-service operation."

Tillman added that at the moment efforts are also being made to minimize the trips that students have to make between the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Student Accounts. "That is software problem that we will be addressing. Once it's solved, we will be able to see student accounts — including what financial aid has already gone through for the student up to the minute — right on our screens.

The Office of Financial Aid will continue to operate out of Administration 152 this week. Office hours will remain the same.

All members of the University Community are invited to see the new location and facilities of the financial aid office at an open house, scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7, from 1 to 5 p.m. in Room B52, Campus Center.

(This story was done with the assistance of Donna Beckley.)

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