Employing Federal Work-Study students would redistribute the financial aid office’s workload

editorial federal financial aid graphic

Courtesy of Baruch College

The Editorial Board

The Office of Financial Services, or commonly known as the financial aid office, is notorious among Baruch College students as being one of the most difficult departments to get in contact with and to be responded to in a timely manner.

Most offices at Baruch respond to emails within a few days, but financial aid tends to take longer due to the sheer number of requests it receives.

This can be especially difficult for students to deal with time-sensitive situations where documents need to be handed in by a certain date or guidance is needed concerning scholarship money. Requesting for more full-time staff to be hired to get more done quickly would fall on deaf ears, but what about hiring students to help them reduce their workload?

The financial aid office should establish positions within its department for Federal Work-Study students. There are already departments at Baruch that utilize Federal Work-Study students to do day-to-day simple tasks that reduce the workload for full-time staff.

The Registrar’s Office employs student ambassadors, International Student Services has openings for front desk assistants and the President’s Office is even hiring a Federal Work-Study student as an office assistant.

At the Baruch Welcome Center, a team of Student Ambassadors handle much of the inquiries that come from prospective students and applicants concerning applications, deadlines and general questions.

For more elaborate situations, supervisors will step in to handle those cases. The financial aid office should follow suit to redistribute simple tasks to student workers and decrease email turnover time so that more serious and time-sensitive inquiries can be addressed faster.

This doesn’t mean to have Federal Work-Study students working with private financial aid concerns and accessing sensitive personal information. Instead, student workers can answer general questions about deadlines, scholarships and other readily available information that many students end up asking the financial aid office about.

Not having Federal Work-Study students working within the very department that runs the Federal Work-Study department is ironic, especially given that they could help speed up productivity.

It’s no surprise that the workload for the financial aid office is overwhelming and there is limited staff to handle all the requests. This could be fixed by having Federal Work-Study students answering emails and performing the simpler tasks needed to run an office effectively.

Ultimately, it would allow the full-time staff to address student financial aid issues faster and more effectively.

It can even open up new ways for the financial aid office to meet the needs of students.

The financial aid office has yet to offer virtual meetings by appointment to students needing financial aid counsel, unlike many other offices at Baruch that have transitioned to Zoom meetings.

Hiring these students could allow the financial aid office to open up times for virtual meetings so students can speak to someone instead of going back and forth over email.