Many Wayne State students have had unpleasant experiences or difficult situations with the Student Services Center. However, the financial aid office has implemented new changes.
Unpleasant instances include scholarships not showing up on their bills, having unknown holds on their account or being forced to pay late fees because they were waiting for their scholarships to be posted before paying their bill.
WSU freshman Lorin Enabulele said working with the Student Services Center can be confusing.
“I didn’t have an updated scholarship,” said Enabulele. “I wasn’t confirmed for a class and because I wasn’t confirmed, I didn’t get my financial aid in time.”
“Now it’s this whole confusing process where I have to get my teacher to confirm me and talk to financial aid. It’s a lot of back and forth.”
After that experience, Enabulele said there could be ways for the Student Services Center to communicate with students in a more efficient manner.
“I feel like there’s a way they can make it easier,” she said. “They can be more responsive, make things simpler, be more student friendly and easier to understand.”
WSU sophomore Chanel Taylor had a similar experience with her scholarship not loading on her account.
“In fall of 2017, my scholarship didn’t show up when they first posted the money, so I thought that they had taken it away,” said Taylor. “I came down here furious. My parents and I went to the Student Services Center and they explained that it just hadn’t been posted yet.”
“Anytime there’s a discrepancy between what a student expects and what they actually see [on their statement], we want them to come in and talk with a financial aid officer,” said Dawn Medley, associate vice president for enrollment management.
By not informing students why their scholarship hasn’t appeared or not providing a notice as to when their scholarships will be posted, many students become frustrated and unsure as to how much they must end up paying.
Moreover, the financial aid office doesn’t always let students know why they have a hold on their account.
“I have a hold on my account, but wasn’t told why,” said Enabulele. “It would be nice if [the financial aid office] made that clearer. They should tell you that you have a hold and why, what type of hold it is and how to fix it.”
Medley said the financial aid office is working to be more accessible to students.
“We’re always trying to figure out better and faster ways [to be responsive to students], and one of the things that will launch probably in the next three weeks is a chatbot,” said Medley.
The chatbot will be on the financial aid website. It will be completely automated and will only be able to answer general questions – but can direct students to other resources if asked specific questions.
Over 80 percent of WSU students receive financial aid, according to Medley.
Catherine Kay, director of financial aid, said that since she became director in the fall of 2016, she has made some changes to the office, including increasing the staff. The financial aid office now has 41 employees, as opposed to their previous 20, according to Kay.
Medley said the WSU financial aid office staff is still below the national average for the number of students they process.
The financial aid office has established new programs to make students’ experiences less stressful, one of which is the Wayne Access Program.
“We guarantee tuition and standard fees only for students that fit a certain criterion. We have a fund that will gap the award,” said Kay.
This program will allow the financial aid office to consider all forms of aid the student is receiving and fill in the rest of the amount needed.
There is also the Emergency Fund, which launched in the winter 2018 semester
“What [the Emergency Fund] allows us to do for the very first time, is help students in situations that fall outside financial aid,” said Medley
Medley said this fund may assist those struggling with transportation or child care costs.