Many Blackburn students are facing sudden troubles with financial aid as the fall semester starts. Learners have been experiencing unexpected charges, troubles with clearing holds or discrepancies with their financial aid packages.
Over the summer, former Director of the Office of Financial Aid Alisha Kapp moved to the new position of Executive Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations. Along with that, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Karissa Chism went on maternity leave from May through July. “Normal work that was usually done over the summer months was pushed back due to me being out of the office,” Chism said.
Due to the current pandemic, the Office of Financial Aid also has a smaller staff than usual, with only three people currently working. The current staff consists of two professional workers and one student worker. All together, they work about 110 hours a week. However, the team does not have as much access to the office as in years past. “Honestly, the pandemic has just made the processes a little slower. With us working from home since March, we didn’t have access to the same things that we would if we were working in the office,” said Chism. “With me currently being the only professional in the office, of course there will be delays with processing financial aid packages.”
There is a need for more people in the office in order to help resolve issues and answer inquiries more quickly. The office sent out several emails over the past few weeks notifying students of the slow progress. “I believe they’re understaffed, but no one can really help that with everything else going on,” said sophomore communications major Ally Lisnek.
However, there are plans to try to speed up the process. Chism said, “I have requested help, and am hoping to receive another professional staff member in the near future. We are also working with an outside company to assist and help make things easier within the Office.”
If any student notices discrepancies in their financial aid package or problems on their account, they should reach out to Karissa Chism. “I am asking students to reach out to me via email during this time because I do not have office coverage all day long. I have also been setting up meetings with students who have concerns or questions.”
As the Office of Financial Aid continues to slowly work through answering questions and returning calls, they ask everyone to remain patient.