Financial Aid Repackaging Addressed at Virtual Forum

The forum gave students and their families the opportunity to ask questions and learn about financial aid and other enrollment services.

Professors Gate
August 26, 2020

The Division for Enrollment and Student Success (ESS), in partnership with the Student Association, held two virtual forums this week, giving George Washington University students and their families the opportunity to ask questions and learn about financial aid and other enrollment services.

The forums on Monday and Wednesday provided an overview of new efforts to address the ways in which student enrollment services, including financial aid, career services and student success have been impacted by the pandemic and the move to virtual learning in the fall 2020 semester.

“We will maintain our commitment to the unique GW experience,” said Jay Goff, the newly appointed vice provost for enrollment and student success (ESS). “It may not be the experience you were originally planning, but we are thinking of ways to bring that experience in the virtual learning environment.”

The primary focus was helping students and families understand the recent undergraduate financial aid repackaging process required as a result of the reduced cost of attendance because of the university's decision to go online.     

In the Monday forum, Michelle Arcieri, executive director of the office of student financial assistance (OSFA), explained that the university’s decision to reduce undergraduate tuition by 10 percent for students who do not live on campus and strictly limit the number of undergraduate students who are living on campus this fall resulted in a reduced overall cost of attendance for many undergraduate students. 

Ms. Arcieri said in order to stay compliant with federal regulations and GW’s institutional aid awarding rules, OSFA recalculated financial aid packages for more than 4,700 undergraduate students to reflect the lowered cost of attendance.

“Although most need-based awards were adjusted due to lower costs of attendance, all full-time undergraduates who were planning to live in GW housing will see no increase in their out-of-pocket expenses,” Ms. Arcieri said.

She reminded students to verify and accept their financial aid packages on GWEB by Aug. 28, adding that any student who believes their direct costs have increased should contact OSFA at 202-994-9000 or [email protected]

Ms. Arcieri also clarified that undergraduate students who will live off-campus, but not at home, should submit a 2020-21 undergraduate change form and provide a copy of their lease to have their financial aid award reevaluated based on their off-campus cost of attendance. Students whose families are experiencing a change of financial circumstances also were encouraged to submit an appeal to be considered for additional aid at any time throughout the academic year.

OSFA has updated the frequently asked questions section of its website and also launched a new way to schedule one-on-one financial aid counseling appointments.

“As a first-generation student myself and as a student who spent three and a half years in a work-study position in the financial aid office during my undergraduate time at GW, I understand the financial aid process can be complex and challenging to navigate,” Ms. Arcieri said. “My goal is to simplify the process.”

During the session, ESS staff explained how the university is employing innovative virtual approaches to improve support and services to students. 

“The university is taking a campus-wide comprehensive approach to ensure that students have the connection, support and access that they need to engage successfully in a virtual learning environment,” said Georgette Edmondson-Wright, associate vice provost for student success. “There are a lot of innovative and new ways that we are preparing to welcome students back to school and support them.”

In addition to  virtual advising, faculty events, virtual  office hours and study halls, she said peer tutoring will be available through Academic Commons, and  additional teaching and learning assistants will be added to support students in specific STEM courses. The Office for Student Success is also offering virtual academic coaching opportunities for students to help build a foundation for a successful semester.

Ms. Edmondson-Wright said that there are resources for students who cannot afford course materials, laptops or secure reliable internet. Students may apply for support through the GW Cares Student Assistance Fund.

Rachel Brown, associate vice provost for university career services, said that the GW Center for Career Services will continue offering virtual appointments with career coaches and connecting students with employers virtually.

She said while federal work-study positions will continue to be posted, the office also will host six field-specific and broader consortium virtual career fairs throughout the fall semester. The first, focused on STEM and healthcare, will be Sept. 10. The School of Business Career Fair, open to all students, will be Sept. 11. Students can also connect to remote jobs and internships on the career platform Handshake and additional micro-internships that are all remote, paid, short-term opportunities.

Mr. Goff said since the announcement of the virtual fall semester, ESS has been focused on supporting students in their continued academic success.

“We are relying on national experts and faculty experts to make the right decisions for our students and community,” he said. “Safety is always the top priority. We know things are happening very rapidly, and so we appreciate your patience and your flexibility.”

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