SG questions SFS’ ability to handle workload

Representatives from Student Financial Services appeared at last week’s Student Government meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 16, asking SG members for feedback on how SFS is doing so it can gauge how to improve its services.

Robert Alston, associate director of financial aid customer service, described SFS’s components.

“(SFS) encompasses two offices. Student Financial Assistance, where me and Jane O’Brien are located, is where grants, loans and scholarships are administered. Down the hall, our sister office is the Office of Student Accounts. Dionne Hallback is the associate director of that area,” Alston said.

O’Brien and Hallback, the only members of SFS’ staff, also appeared at the meeting.

Students shared personal stories about SFS issues.

Senior management major John Wintermute, senator at large, described how $50 was deducted from his health insurance refund due to a parking ticket he didn’t receive.

He told Alston he wouldn’t have noticed this if he hadn’t read over his bill thoroughly and asked if there was a way students could be kept abreast of problems with their accounts.

“Mistakes happen,” Alston said, mentioning that students need to stay aware of activity on their account in order to catch them.

Junior psychology major Kelsey Rebelo said $12,000 in her tuition money was once deposited into another student’s account by mistake.

“I don’t think SFS realizes how often these mistakes happen,” Rebelo, senator of culture and society, said.

SG president Olaniyi Solebo, junior political science major, asked about SFS’s staff.

“All this different information you handle — two people do this?” Solebo said.

“That is correct,” O’Brien said.

Many SG members, including advisor Magda Manetas, seemed astonished by the number.

“We’re in awe of your ability to do what you do with these few people … but knowing there are thousands of students and their families who seek assistance and counseling from them.” Manetas said. “These students have a voice, and sometimes they need to stand up and say, ‘This is unacceptable.’”

Senior accounting major and vice president of Student Services Dan Frieri closed SFS’s presentation. Frieri has been working with SFS to organize a Student Financial Assistance forum.

He described his two goals for the forum.

“Student and finance are two very broad terms, so there might be a lot about (SFS) students don’t know is there,” Frieri said. “The second part goes back to the comment made earlier about having a voice. There are two questions on the SFS survey — ‘Were you treated in a professional and courteous manner?’ and ‘Were you able to transact your business in a timely matter?’ — but neither cover, ‘Did anything get done?’”

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.