New system to aid students

By Jayna Ronayne

A new computer system allowing students easy access to financial aid and scholarship information is coming to NIU.

Funded by the Student Committee On Financial Aid (SCOFA) with the help of NIU’s Financial Aid Office, an aid-seeking computer system, known as ‘CASHE,’ might be accessible to students as early as March.

CASHE, an acronym for College Aid Sources for Higher Education, allows the student’s information to be put in a computer and then can give the student up to date and accurate information on all scholarships, fellowships, loans, internships and cooperative work programs which pertain to his criteria. The system allows information of aid for both undergraduate and graduate assistance.

Maurice Thomas, director of SCOFA, who has been working on the project all year, said bringing the system to NIU is not only good for the students, but sets a good example for other universities as well.

“There are only three other universities in Illinois dealing with the system: Northwestern, Eastern and the University of Illinois,” Thomas said. “However, this will be the first one run by students. All the others are run by the Financial Aid Offices.”

Thomas also said with a student-run system, it won’t take students as long to get the information back.

“When a student fills out a financial aid application, if there is one mistake, or just one blank, the form goes into human hands, and is delayed,” he said. “I believe it will help in the long run, and students won’t have to wait as long since it goes right into the computer. It’s a very user-friendly system.

“It will be a great service to students because everyone needs money, and one of the biggest problems here at NIU is the financial aid system,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of problems with forms. It’s not that students are ignorant or fearful of the forms, they just don’t understand them.”

Another advantage to the CASHE system is cost. While many scholarship services cost around $50-$100, Thomas said the CASHE system “will be of minimal cost to students.”

Financial Aid Director Jerry Augsburger said he also is pleased with NIU’s incorporation of the CASHE system.

“I brought it up because I felt the system would be a worthwhile project for the SCOFA and the Student Association to get involved with,” he said.

Augsburger also said the system will give students the chance to find financial information and scholarships without any high fees or hassle.

“While there are no guarantees, we’ve had various individuals and corporations that have been marketing scholarship search services to students,” he said. “This sounds to students or anyone reading the ads like a guarantee. I would characterize most of these nebulous services as con artists and somewhat of a scam.”

“Giving students this opportunity to look for outside scholarships is a very worthwhile project,” Augsburger said.