By Victoria Cassidy
LSCS financial aid applicants will now be able to electronically attach documentation needed for verification and processing and will have one phone number for all financial aid related questions and requests.
“In the past, financial aid applicants had to download the forms, fill them out and mail them to one of the Lone Star College’s financial aid offices and then wait for the office to manually process the application,” said Carolyn Wade, LSCS executive director of financial aid. “It was inefficient for both students and financial aid offices. Our new electronic document upload and verification process is a huge leap forward.”
In the past, LSCS financial aid offices would experience backlogs due to the manual processing, Wade said. This delayed the office’s ability to confirm application receipt and complete processing. The electronic submission of supplemental verification material eliminates this problem because it loads all of the information directly into the LSCS system.
“This process benefits the applicant and the financial aid office because the office will be able to process applications quicker and students will be notified about their financial aid package sooner,” said Wade. “If students are notified earlier, they have more time to plan ahead.”
According to Wade, the new process is more streamlined and efficient. The new goal is to have financial aid processed within a three- to four-week turnaround time.
Students wanting to receive financial aid for fall 2012 classes must file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by July 1 to allow time for application review and aid qualification processing before fall class payments are due. Fall 2012 class registration is now open; payments for pre-registered classes are due August 11 and at the time of registration between August 11-27, when classes start.
Another way that LSCS is responding to the needs of students is the creation of a centralized phone number for financial aid related questions. Launched on April 16, the Financial Aid Contact Center is open for calls Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. The single phone number for improved and fast response is 281.291.2700.
“The contact center will allow the office of financial aid to spot trends in processes within LSCS, with a single point of contact for students and tracking systems in place to ensure that all information and instructions are cohesive,” said Shannon Infante, LSCS director of financial aid communications and training.
The FACC center will offer a three-tiered approach to service to expedite the financial aid calls and resolve the tickets created.
“The plan is to follow a consistent and disciplined procedure to resolve requests that come in,” said Infante. “Agents will collect relevant information, fix what issues they can, escalate problems they can’t solve and set expectations with the callers so they’re not left frustrated or their questions left unanswered.”
In addition, LSCS restructured the financial aid department to centralize service at each campus.
“This will ensure a standardization of customer service and care from campus to campus,” said Infante. “You will be able to walk in to any financial aid department at any campus and get the same answers.”
The new and re-engineered financial aid department consists of: Carolyn Wade, executive director of financial aid; Shannon Infante, director of financial aid communications and training; Vickie Johnson, director of financial aid operations; Jessica Thomas, director of financial aid compliance; and Arnold Erazo, director of the financial aid contact center.
The re-engineering of financial aid processing and support services for students is in response to the record number of students attending Lone Star College System each semester.
LSCS is committed to helping students be successful, reach their educational goals and complete their credentials and degrees. Re-engineering student processes are just one way LSCS is helping students succeed by removing unnecessary obstacles.
With 75,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area, and the fastest-growing community college system in Texas. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, five centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.