We’re so glad you chose our school, and we can’t wait to guide you through the financial aid process.
If you haven’t already, check out our previous correspondence, An Open Letter to Students from a Financial Aid Counselor. It is our heartfelt message to you about why we care, how we want to help you, and what you can do to help us help you. It still stands.
But today we are going to talk to you about what we’ve done above and beyond caring a whole bunch about you and your success. Yep, it goes beyond that!
Educating You for a Better Future
By now, you’ve received our digital and dynamic award letter.
You can see we included many definitions, links to helpful resources and video explanationsfor you. We did our best to translate the complex financial aid jargon into easily understandable explanations. We hope you saw our award letter as not only an announcement of how much aid you stand to receive, but also a mini financial literacy course.
What’s with all the hype around financial literacy these days?
Well, as you have probably seen in the news, Americans face about $1.3 trillion of student debt. Now, as financial aid counselors, we can tell you…much of that debt is really good debt. A lot of those loans enabled low-income students to achieve their dreams of higher education – when they would otherwise have not been able to.
You might think – but then isn’t all of that debt good debt?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. While we do our best to counsel students to undertake only the loans they need to afford school, some students take on much more debt than that. Whether this is from lack of parental guidance, financial illiteracy, students’ confusion over what is a loan and what is a grant, inflated estimated costs of living, or just poor judgement, it doesn’t matter to us. We’re not here to point fingers. We’re here to help you.
That’s why we give you as much information as possible, organized neatly in a digital award letter that makes it easy to see only what you need to learn.
We are educational institutes after all, and some of that education begins before you even step foot in a classroom.
Simplifying Your Path to Aid
Some of you (about two-thirds) were chosen for verification. This probably sounds a lot worse than it is. It just means we need documentation to verify some of your information. But don’t worry – no faxing or running around making copies required! Thanks to our simple, easy-to-use portal, you will be able to complete verification via your smartphone.
It was easy for us too. Our student information system sent verification notifications (by email and text) to the list of people who were chosen for verification.
From there, you created a log in to the portal where intuitive software led you through the questions and forms you needed to complete or allowed you to upload a document by taking a picture of it with your smartphone or tablet.
Keeping You Safe
The best part of this?
Your information is safe. Now we don’t want to scare you, but certain processes like email or fax are not safe for sensitive documents like
- Your and your parents’ taxes
- Drivers’ licenses
- Social security cards
- Paystubs and
- Other documents required for verification.
Our portal is safe though (collective sigh of relief!). All data transmitted through our portal is protected with government grade encryption methods. These basically scramble the message, so it’s safe from anyone not meant to see it.
Did you know the education sector has the second most data breaches of any industry? This infographic shows that there’s an average of more than one breach per week in higher ed.
We won’t stand for that at our school. Your data and your identity are precious, and we protect them as we would protect our own.
Even if you weren’t chosen for verification, there may be processes (like SAP appeals) in the future for which you’ll have an opportunity to use our financial aid portal. That way you don’t have to trek over to the financial aid office when you’re busy with school. Not that we don’t want to see you; we’d just rather you pop in to say hi than to turn in documents.
We hope you appreciate the ways we’ve gone above and beyond to help you borrow responsibly, to keep your data safe and to make the financial aid process as easy as possible.