On Aug. 1, the financial aid office was packed as students awaited financial advisement at the end of the summer semester. Students have been calling in, but some have had to wait for extended periods of time.
From 9 a.m. to well past noon, many students had to stand at the main entrance of the office. On July 24, Lauren Cole, former social media coordinator for Georgia State’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Institute, tweeted at the university’s twitter handle saying that she had called the office, but was put on hold for 48 minutes. She then hung up, called again, but was put on hold again for 51 minutes.
“It’s difficult every year,” Cole said. “I have been a part time student since 2012. I [would] say over the past two years the wait time [has] gotten longer.”
Journalism major Emi Muto said she called the office to set up an appointment to meet with a financial aid advisor. She said it was the better option because figuring out finances over the phone is difficult. She has also alternated between calling and going to the office in person to seek out financial advisement, but she, like other students, have dealt with longer delays in line.
“I was on hold for 30 minutes and ended up hanging up,” Muto said. “Sometimes I have to come another day.”
Other Georgia State students have also taken to twitter to voice their frustration at the office’s “terrible customer service,” as Georgia State student Rachel Stanley said in a tweet. Another student going by the twitter handle @Astrokid23 complained over the fact that the extended holding times over the phone causes students to “come all the way down to [the] campus and waste your gas for little things.”
“Whether in person, over the phone or online, the wait times are very unacceptable,” Stanley said. “They have simple forms online, but you’re asked to print [them out] or fax them in. I don’t understand why the infrastructure and support system is so inadequate.”
Students calling in, have been informed that the office is experiencing technical difficulties with its fax services and that students will have to submit documents in person. The school’s twitter handle said that the office has established new leadership and “are reviewing new policies and practices” to improve the service at the office.
Director of Student Accounts Charmaine Daniels explained that the weeks prior to the tuition payment deadline are the office’s busiest time of the year and that the consolidation of Perimeter College only exasperated the delays.
“This is why we began reaching out to students weeks in advance to encourage them to resolve any financial aid or student account issues to avoid long lines and phone call wait times,” Daniels said. “This Fall we sent over 22,000 payment reminder postcards via U.S mail, sent several emails and have also reached out to students with phone calls.”
Daniels said the Financial aid office has been making changes to provide better financial services to Georgia State students. In July the office increased its staff to reduce wait times and answered 12,719 calls with an average wait time of 26 minutes.
“Since our Fall 2016 peak period we launched our Student Financial Management Center at the downtown campus and added six financial management specialist, seven financial management counselors, and three managers who focus on student account and financial aid issues–this is an increase of 10 staff since fall 2016,” Daniels said.
In the month of July, the office also served 4,839 students for in-person visits with wait times at an average of 42 minutes.
These changes reflected Cole’s and other students desires for the office to expand its staff in light of the influx of new students from Perimeter; however, as the students who complained can attest, some have yet to feel the impact of these changes.