Outside the classroom, perhaps the toughest quizzes students face are questions surrounding college finances. That is where that long, newly-remodeled counter on the main level of the Centennial Student Union – home of the Campus Hub – plays a vital role in a student’s successful college experience.
Short lines, prompt phone calls and good customer service are some of the things students hope for on their side of the counter. But what is it like for the seven financial aid specialists when the tables are turned?
“We are here to help,” said Karen Bunde, Campus Hub and MavCARD operations director. “No question is a dumb question. Keep in mind the more you know, the better questions you’ll ask, resulting in more helpful answers. It is refreshing for everyone working in the Hub to be able to help guide students through their questions.”
Bunde said her staff seeks to provide day-to-day professional assistance to make student lives a little bit easier. She also touched on things that students can do, prior to asking questions, to get the most out of their visit.
“One of the most important things students should be aware of is timelines and deadlines. If deadlines are missed, we can’t do anything to help the situation.” Bunde said.
Bunde stressed the importance of thoroughly reading emails and letters sent to students about their financial aid. Answers to questions students often have can be found by reading all of the information in front of them.
“Students can help themselves a lot if they read and do their research,” she said. “It’s like taking out a mortgage and not knowing what you’ve signed up for.”
Bunde noted that the financial aid process has come a long way in last ten years. The Hub constantly analyzes problems that students face to provide quick and thorough responses.
“It is a cleaner, easier-to-follow process today,” she said.
Much of that involves intense training to prepare Hub specialists to give students the best help possible. Staff complete weeks of preparation and real-life scenarios before working with students. Bunde said that training includes working with Dr. Kari Much, staff psychologist at the Counseling Center, to understand student behavior when tackling their financial uncertainties.
“It is important for us to know the difference between a frustrated student and an angry student so we can better understand where they are coming from when asking their questions.” Bunde said.
Bunde suggested that students visit the Campus Hub Website. From Hub TV to the “Did you know box” – where students and families can apply for loans and grants, there is a lot of information provided to keep students up-to-date on announcements, financial information and deadlines.
Maverick One Stop, the university’s online help site, is another help site when questions are not urgent. Requests for information are redirected to the Hub where a specialist who provide quick replies via email.