Financial Aid office goes paperless e-mail notification to inform students

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Students hoping to receive financial aid next semester should start learning how to check their Western e-mail now. To cut the cost of expenses and to be more accessible, the Financial Aid Office has moved to an almost entirely electronic system.

Starting this spring, students who have completed their 2009-2010 Free Application for Federal Student Aid and who have submitted all required verification documents will receive notification and instructions for accepting all aid through their Western e-mail account by May 15. ?

“We have moved to this new way of processing awards for two main reasons,” said Acting Director of Financial Aid Angie Beam. “The first is for the convenience of students to have 24/7 access since they want do things electronically.”

According to Beam, using electronic sources that will be easily accessible to students should expedite the acceptance and certification of financial aid funds.
The second reason for the switch to the green, paperless method is to save on postage.

“We want to cut back on budget and expenses and we don’t want to do that by raising tuition or cutting scholarship funds,” Beam said.

By removing all the mail that would have been sent informing returning students about their award letters and requesting information for FAFSA’s verification process, Beam said Western would save close to $12,000 in postage alone.

“Our biggest concern is we still hear students don’t check their Western e-mail account,” Beam said.

Beam stressed that any student wanting to succeed should learn to check their Western e-mail accounts regularly, not only for financial aid information but other important information regarding their careers at Western or e-mails from professors about classes.

After final grades are posted, students can expect an e-mail directing them to the Missouri Western Financial Aid Web page where they can check their financial aid status. Western officials are waiting until after the posting of final grades to help ensure students receive the maximum amount of aid available for each grade level.

Incoming freshmen will be the only students to receive notifications by mail. Unlike past semesters though, this year’s notification will only be one page in length and will advise the students on how they can access their account electronically.

According to Beam, all future students accepted to Western will be given an e-mail account immediately after application. This e-mail will be used for internal purposes only and will allow in-coming freshmen to receive only electronic notifications as well.

Freshman Kim Johnson said she does not check her Western e-mail as much as she did when she started at Western last fall, but she feels the e-mail notification system isn’t very safe.

“With the Internet people can get my passwords and stuff while with actual hard mail I can see if it has been opened or tampered with,” Johnson said. “I’d rather do things personally than over the Internet.”

Beam said she has had requests to use other e-mail accounts to be able to notify students about their financial aid award letters but said that because of security reasons all awards will be sent through the Western e-mail system.

“We just can’t verify who is using and reading private information for other e-mail addresses,” Beam said. “But every Western student has a secured e-mail in their name only.”

The exception to this is for notifications concerning verification. Approximately 30 percent of the student body is selected at random each year for the FAFSA verification process. All students, in-coming and returning, who have filled out the FAFSA already and who were picked for verification will not only receive e-mails to their Western account but to any e-mail addresses that they submitted to the FAFSA. These e-mails will be sent continuously in an attempt to contact students until the verification papers are submitted to the Financial Aid Office.

Wyatt Jones, a freshman psychology major, checks his Western e-mail daily but said he does not particularly like the idea of e-mailed notifications over mailed ones because of the amount of junk mail that Missouri Western sends out daily via e-mail.

“When something from Western comes in the mail, it seems more important than in an e-mail,” Jones said.

Jones feels he would rather have both forms of notification. He likes the ability to complete things online but would feel more informed if the notifications came by standard mail to his address.

Beam advises students to check their Western e-mail account throughout the summer for any financial aid updates. If they have any questions or difficulties with the notifications, they can call the Financial Aid office at (816) 271-5939 or visit Eder Hall 103.

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