By Angel Lizardi |Staff Writer|
CSUSB officials responsible for assisting students in search of student loans said that they want to focus and improve their efforts on communicating with students on how to handle their financial aid.
The Coyote Chronicle interviewed them in response to a series of articles that focus on the issues students have with handling their educational finances.
“I am aware that our students have student loan debt; nationally, student loan debt is a major issue,” said Dr. Brian Haynes, Vice President of Student Affairs, which oversees the financial aid deptartment.
Dr. Haynes mentioned that the university is taking steps to address this issue with the use of government initiatives and reducing bottleneck courses.
“Hopefully, by removing bottleneck courses students will have the opportunity to graduate at a quicker rate and won’t have to take classes they don’t need,” said Haynes.
Roseanna Ruiz, Director of Financial Aid, added that her office wants to improve on “financial aid literacy,” especially for first year students.
“We want to help the students understand what types of aid they are accepting and promote money management as well,” said Ruiz.
Ruiz mentioned that there are scholarships that students don’t know about like the Middle Class Scholarship that they might qualify for.
Haynes and Ruiz said that they are considering the hiring of an outside marketing consultant to help them better communicate with the students.
They both mentioned the possibility of reaching out to a third-party vendor on how to inform students of the opportunities available on campus.
“At the moment, communicating through email has been our method of reaching out to students, and a lot of students don’t check their emails,” agreed both Ruiz and Haynes.
Dr. Haynes is considering raising awareness of scholarships and opportunities of student employment through social media.
Both Haynes and Ruiz said that they confronted similar issues when they were students searching for financial assistance.
They said this reality is one of the reasons they were committed to assisting students in need.
Both feel that it is their responsibility to ensure that the students are self-directed and self-motivated by the time they graduate, but feel that students need to meet them halfway.
“We won’t try to spoon feed our students,” said Haynes.
Ruiz stated that when she asks students if they utilize the school’s financial aid website, they say that they haven’t.
To get financial assistance, they prefer to go in person at the financial aid office in University Hall.
Some students commented that they have to be more accountable for themselves when looking for help with scholarships and loans.
A scholarship or grant will not come out of thin air and the campus will not hold your hand to get one.
Student Nicole Pena agrees that students should take more responsibility in getting to know the school’s resources.
“We owe it to ourselves to look for ways to enhance our stay here,” said Pena.
Pena is a bit skeptical about the possibility of using media like Instagram to promote awareness.
“I feel that we have become desensitized by ads and promotion that we might ignore notices that the school puts out,” continued Pena.
Student Jackeline Felix said that applying for scholarships isn’t hard at all.
“They’re easy to find, however, when students see that they application is seven pages long, they get discouraged,” said Felix.
“I admit that I have been too lazy to apply to scholarships before,” continued Felix.
While both Ruiz and Haynes have ideas on how to approach the issue, they both agree that students also need to also do their own part.