Next week, an all campus e-mail will be sent out inviting financial aid recipients to consider joining a new Financial Aid Advisory Committee. Chair of the Finance and Facilities Committee of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Ben Firke ’12 proposed the idea for the committee last semester to identify and address problems within the financial aid system which may have been previously overlooked.
“We’re going to see what are the issues that the Financial Aid Office or the WSA [Wesleyan Student Assembly] didn’t know existed and try to find ways to address those,” said WSA Representative Bradley Spahn ’11, who will co-chair the committee along with Director of Financial Aid Jennifer Lawton.
In addition to Spahn and Lawton, the committee will include the non-WSA member financial aid recipient, WSA Representative Zach Malter ’13, and other Financial Aid Office staff members. Students interested in filling the non-WSA slot on the committee will be asked to submit a statement of interest that Spahn and Malter will read.
“This committee will be an excellent forum for communication,” Lawton wrote in an e-mail to The Argus.
By organizing public discussions and enabling direct dialogue between students and the Financial Aid Office, the committee will work to address concerns in a way that will meet the needs of both parties, according to Spahn. To gauge the opinion of the student body as a whole, the committee hopes to issue a survey asking students for feedback on the quality of financial aid at the University.
“The stories that worry me the most are families that find the financial aid forms too daunting, parents who don’t have access to the technology they need to fill out the forms, parents who think they are not eligible for financial aid when they in fact are,” Spahn said. “The Financial Aid Office is already doing a good job at reaching out to those families, but like anything, there’s room for improvement.”
In the midst of the University’s budget deficit, there has been concern over the potential that financial would take a subsequent cut. In the past year the University dropped its formerly need-blind admissions policy for transfer students, although there has been no move to change financial aid policy.
“Given that we’re not going to see expansions in the amount of aid dollars, we want to work on improving financial aid for students in other ways,” Spahn said.