New financial aid site benefits students

Matthew White

The Student Financial Aid office redesigned its Web site, offering greater information to students on how they can apply for aid and how much aid they’re likely to receive.

Mark Evans, director of the Student Financial Aid office, said the new Web site was launched during the first week of the Fall 2006 semester.

“We gave our home page a new look and feel to make it more consistent with the ‘centennial’ look of the university’s main page,” Evans said. “We’ve added enhancements, such as a clip of myself welcoming students to the site, and audio and video tutorials to assist students.

“Every year since 1996 we’ve tried to provide something new that conforms to the university’s look and feel and that meets students’ needs and expectations in awarding aid,” Evans continued.

Associate Director Constance Dubick said, “I am very conscious that our Web site is critical. Students go to it first for information. It’s also critical how we deliver information for new students and their families.”

Dubick also said all the information on the office’s CD-ROM is now available to students through the new financial aid Web site.

Evans said students’ needs are important in deciding what sort of changes will be made to the Web site.

“Another piece in how we move the Web site forward is the feedback we receive,” Evans said. “We learned that many of the people coming to our Web site were perspective students, and because of that we rearranged the tabs and drop-down lists to make it easier for them to find information fast.”

While just about any sort of information a student could want is available online, sitting down with a financial aid counselor is still very important for students, Dubick said.

“We strive to communicate that we are available,” Dubick said. “I see times when students need one-on-one sessions with counselors. We’re trying to provide a learning environment for students, teaching them about debt and credit.”

Senior sociology major Heidi Summerlin said she used the new Web site to check out her financial aid award and to figure out how much school was going to cost her.

“The student ID login was hard to find, but once I got an e-mail from the financial aid office it was easier,” she said.

Overall, Summerlin said the Web site was useful.

“It keeps you from being on hold. If you have questions you can call, but the Web site allows you to view your award,” said Summerlin. “(But) until you have an idea of how much school costs and how much your financial award will be, and until you understand grants and loans, you should see a counselor.”

Contact student affairs reporter Matthew White at [email protected].