Offices merge in hope of increasing efficiency

By Nancy Galan

DeKALB | For the past seven years, the Scholarship and Financial Aid Offices have worked together to help students find financial resources, and this semester, the two combined because of a Program Prioritization recommendation.

Program Prioritization used task forces to create reports that reviewed 223 academic programs and 236 administrative programs to influence the allocation of university funds. The reports were based on narratives submitted by program leaders in November, according to an April 26 Northern Star article.

The Program Prioritization Administrative Task Force supports merging the resources both offices provide so students can receive a “consolidated financial aid package that serves them for their entire NIU career,” according to the Program Prioritization Administrative Task Force report.

Although both offices used similar resources, students often had a hard time finding someone in either office who could answer all finance-related questions before the two merged, said Anne Hardy, Financial Aid and Scholarship Office Director. Administrators hope students will now be able to find resources more easily.

“The [Financial Aid and] Scholarship [Office] has now been an office of one,” Hardy said. “And it really makes sense to have that additional support [and the] additional human resources to merge together.”

Both offices have worked together and reported to the same administrator since 2009. This helped students to more easily find resources because the two offices were in communication about student assistance, Hardy said.

The merger is intended to lower costs for both offices, as they will combine their usage of paper, printing and other supplies.

Rebecca Babel, Scholarship and Financial Aid Office director, said another goal for the offices has been to combine scholarship and financial aid-related duties for staff members so they can assist students with a broader range of topics.

“Many universities use a model where scholarships and financial aid are together in one office,” Hardy said. “At NIU, it’s always been a separate office, and sometimes, even [both offices were] reporting to separate bosses.”