The Daily Aztec

SDSU’s financial aid office should be more accessible to students

by Ashley Na, Contributor

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San Diego State offers students diverse services and directories online — including those of campus services, safety services, human resources and parking.

This is a way to help direct students to resolve a problem that they are facing.

With these resources, SDSU students are able to use these services to their benefit by either calling the office or sending an email to the department they are looking to reach.

However, the only service that students are unable to send emails to just so happens to be the financial aid department.

With the sub category labeled online as, “Student Finances,” students who are eligible for loans, scholarships, FAFSA and students who are simply looking to pay for tuition and fees are given three main options: “Money Matters,” “Online Student Account” and “New Student and Parents.”  

However, students with other issues or  extremely important questions have no choice but to call the office during their office hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As a student who is eligible for both Pell Grant and FAFSA, I’ve had my fair share of interactions with the financial aid office.

For starters, my calls are usually picked up by an automated recording that states,  “SDSU is receiving higher-than-normal call volume at the moment.” Then I’m usually given two options. A, to stay on the line (which by the way, could take hours) until someone is available, or B to wait for someone to return my call (which by the way, often times never actually gets returned.)

In order to pay bills, like tuition and fees, or to check the status of scholarship money, it is imperative that students have consistent access to the financial aid department.

However, unlike other offices and departments on campus, SDSU’s financial aid office does not have an email account designated directly for them. Although they have a small contact information labeled as ‘scholars@mail.sdsu.edu,’ an email comes right back in fifteen minutes directing students to either, “visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships at Student Services West, Room 3615, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, or call our office at 619-594-6323 during those same hours to speak with a financial aid counselor.” They also mention the fact that the department “(does) not provide any financial aid assistance over this email address.”

After speaking to one of the counselors at the OFAS, I was told that the department does not offer email access specifically due to the confidential information such as “social security numbers and identity.”

Despite confidentiality issues, the OFAS should find new solutions to help both international and in-state students for long waiting times. A simple solution may be designating an active email for SDSU’s OFAS department.

Though this doesn’t address the issues of confidentiality, simply being able to communicate with counselors on a consistent basis would help so many students. Even if it’s only to schedule in-person or over-the-phone meetings. Simply having the security of knowing that you have a counselor there for you is extremely important.

Considering the long wait time for both international and in-state students, an active email for SDSU’s financial aid department should be set. Though it is clear that the office receives high levels of calls each day, prompt responses to these questions often save people the stress of worrying whether or not they’ll be able to attend the university.

By adding an active and consistent emailing feature, students will be able to resolve issues and questions effectively and simply, without having to wait for hours on the phone or rip their hair out as they struggle to reach somebody.

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