In times of financial instability, the need is even greater for programs that promote college accessibility and affordability. Bad economic times lead more people to turn to education as a solution, which we’re seeing with record numbers of students across the country applying for aid. While larger reforms are needed, those who work in financial aid can make a big difference in students’ lives by taking small steps.
Recently, I visited the financial aid office websites of more than twenty colleges to find out whether or not their schools participate in federal student loan programs. I was surprised at how often I had difficulty finding an answer, so I began to look for office phone numbers to ask directly. Some sites had user-friendly layouts where I was able to find information quickly. However, I was surprised how difficult several schools’ sites were to navigate. In an attempt to offer students helpful information, some sites offered an overwhelming amount of it. As a result, key pieces of information – like contact information or types of available aid – got lost in the mix, thus negating the sites’ intended purpose as a helpful tool.
If students are unable to locate a simple phone number on a website, how are they supposed to get the vital information they need? Putting the aid office’s contact information very clearly and visibly on the financial aid office homepage is a simple step that all financial aid offices – not to mention all student services – should take today. It’s quick, easy, and it just might make all the difference.