Financial aid info to be offered in Spanish

Shantae Rollins

Kent State is making accommodations for students by providing financial aid information in Spanish.

Faculty in the Student Financial Aid Office have done their homework and found that many other universities are catering to their diverse student population.

Jeff Thomas, computer technology coordinator for the Student Financial Aid Office, said Kent State did not have any materials available in Spanish until recently. Translating financial aid information is the first step in the long process of adapting other university materials.

“We’re working on building a Spanish glossary with the names of buildings and departments,” said Coral Dejesus, graduate teaching assistant. “We want to have something standardized for the name of everything at Kent State.”

The Institute for Applied Linguistics, a nationally ranked program within the department of modern and classical language studies, is responsible for the financial aid language conversion.

“The primary focus is on Spanish-speaking parents of first-generation college students,” Thomas said. “We want to be able to connect with them, and we’re very fortunate to have one of the top translation programs in the country to help us do that.”

Dejesus has been instrumental in getting the translation process off the ground.

“Parents are no longer blindsided because when they come in, they have some basic information about financial aid,” Dejesus said.

Dejesus said being trained at Kent State gives her a better idea of how to convert information for students and parents.

“In Spanish, there are two ways of addressing a person: formally and informally,” Dejesus said. “Because we are primarily addressing parents, we try to keep it free of jargon and change the tone to make it more formal.”

The financial aid materials translated to Spanish can be found on the official Student Financial Aid Web site by clicking on the top right corner, labeled “en Espan?ol.”

Student Financial Aid Director Mark Evans said the department recognizes the university’s efforts to recruit a larger number of the growing Hispanic population and reach students at a much earlier age by providing vital information to their parents.

“We currently have publications that can be directly downloaded from the Web site and a 30-minute video discussing financial aid basics,” Evans said. “We now have the tools to simplify an already complicated process.”

Connie Dubick, associate director of Student Financial Aid, said it is a great collaboration between the Student Financial Aid Office and the Institute for Applied Linguistics.

“We are utilizing the available resources on campus to carry out this initiative,” Dubick said.

Thomas said getting feedback about where the office is in its translation progress is important to making improvements.

“We’re trying to find out where students will see the information and pass it along to their parents,” Thomas said. “We have a page on YouTube, and we want to begin working with Cleveland organizations to get the word out and branch off to other places from there.”

Evans suggested focus groups be formed to determine what students and their families are in need of and proceed to make alterations from there.

Contact student affairs reporter Shantae Rollins at [email protected].