Department Spotlight – Student Finance

Finance DepartmentStudent finance can be a complex subject, but it is not one that Carrington College California students have to try and tackle alone. Your campus has a Student Finance department to help you navigate the system, offering help, guidance, and plenty of information.

To give you a clearer understanding of how the campus student finance team can help, we sat down with Kim Kane, Senior Director, Student Finance for Carrington College California.

So Kim, before we get started can you tell us a little about you and your position?

“I’ve been with Carrington for four years, and with the DeVry family for 15 years. I oversee all the student finance departments for Carrington College California.”

Can you tell us what a campus Student Finance Department does?

“Our main mission is to serve our students so they have a full understanding of all their financing options. It’s our goal to present them with all the options, of which we are aware, to finance their education through the federal, state, institutional and private resources.

These could be financial assistance resources that don’t need to be repaid like federal grants and scholarships, and resources that do need to be repaid like federal and/or private loans. We try to give the student all the information available, so that they can decide what’s in their own best interest.”

When does a student first meet the student finance team?

“Prospective students often make the determination that they want to attend school based on the fact that it is what they want or need to do for their future. Often they have already enrolled and they then come to see the finance department and ask – ‘How are you going to help me make this happen?’

Other students may come to see us prior to enrollment to get a better understanding of their options, and then decide whether or not to enroll. I’d say probably half of the students we see have already enrolled when they come to see us – we often meet them the first time on the same day they enroll.”

What’s the process for a new student who is considering going back to school?

“Typically a prospective student will contact the school to set up an appointment with an Enrollment Services Representative. After they’ve met with Enrollment Services, and have an idea of the program that they’re interested in, they then meet with student finance. That’s usually on the same day – that first day they come in to campus.

But because they’ve usually had to absorb quite a lot of information that day, including a campus tour, a variety of program information, maybe even some testing, we don’t overwhelm them with facts and figures about finance there and then. So that meeting is often just an introduction to say hello, and to let them know we’re here to help them however they want to do it. At this point we’re just letting them know their options for the application process.”

What generally happens next?

“Some students will set up a follow-up appointment for us to help them with the application process, but others say – “You know what, I’d like to do as much of this at home on my own as I can; so you point me to the website and I’m going to take it from here because I want to do this on my own schedule.”

If that’s the case we then set up a follow-up appointment for them to come back during the next day or two, after they’ve completed the paperwork in their own time. At that follow-up appointment, assuming they’ve completed the application, we can discuss their eligibility for federal aid or other resources.”

So it seems like it’s very much an advisory service?

“Yes, it is. We try to make it as ‘non-mysterious’ as possible, we take as much time as the student needs. Every student meets privately with a student finance advisor one on one, and they offer as much or as little help and advice as the student wants.

Financing can be a little scary, but when you have the opportunity to sit down with someone and talk in ‘plain English’ with the numbers laid out in front of you, you can get a good idea of what’s going to happen once you leave and have to start paying back any loan funds. It can all seem more manageable and less scary that way. We don’t want to create any obstacles to a student’s potential success, but in the end, it’s always the individual student’s decision on how they want to progress.”

What are the most common questions that students ask?

“Quite honestly the most common question seems to be – “Is there any way to get this all paid for free?”  We normally remind them that their education is an investment in their future. The short answer is “Great question, but typically not!”

The next most common question is – “When does the loan need to be repaid?” The general answer to that is federal loans go into repayment six months after the student leaves school, while some private loans do require small monthly payments while the student is still attending school. It all depends on your individual eligibility which we explore after the application has been completed.”

Does the Student Finance department monitor a student’s academic progress?

“Academic performance is one of the components of continued eligibility. We don’t specifically monitor it, but obviously the academic team and the Registrar department do, and they inform us if a student has failed to make satisfactory academic progress. Students are given time, typically a term, to bring their GPA up.”

Can Carrington graduates still utilize the services of the finance department?

“Yes, if they have questions they can always call after they leave school. We also have Financial Literacy Consultants who reach out to graduates to see if they have any questions about things like loan repayments.

If a graduate runs into temporary financial difficulties, the consultant can assist them with applications to get time-off from making loan payments. Someone may need to take some time off because they are starting a family, or caring for an ill parent, or maybe unemployment, any of those sorts of things. The consultant is on hand to help them after they’ve left school.”

How would you sum up what the finance team does for Carrington students?

“We know that the hardest part is getting started; but we want to reassure students that our folks are all in their jobs because they like helping people. We try to take all these complex federal aid processes, and help simplify them. It is a complicated process, we know that, but it’s our job to take that complicated process and make it friendly; something people can understand and walk through.

Our job is to translate ‘bureaucratese’ into plain English, and to make sure that people have all the information they need to make an informed decision about their financial options.”