Struggling services

The Temple News recognizes the flaws of SFS, but encourages students to be proactive.

Student Financial Services has some of the most important responsibilities of any office in the university, yet still struggles to perform some of its most basic duties. On Nov. 1, The Temple News reported that approximately 8,000 students had their accounts on hold, meaning they could not register for courses until their balance with the university was paid. It was also reported that SFS has become aware of students’ frustration.

“We are very, very aware that we are not providing a level of service the students expect, need or deserve,” Jodi Levine Laufgraben, the vice provost for academics and assessment, told The Temple News in November 2011.

Meetings were conducted, three people were added to SFS’ staff and processes were supposed to be streamlined. Fast forward to the present and students still are not getting the level of service they expect, need or deserve, as Matthew Hulmes and Alexis Sachdev report in [Registration tests SFS efforts to improve] p. 1.

Some of the anecdotes reported from students indicate that things are more of the same with students being tangled in red tape, having their accounts mismanaged and leaving the office with their problems unsolved and with questions unanswered. Students should not leave any office, classroom or any area of the university feeling belittled. The inefficiency of SFS continues to be unacceptable. New director Craig Fennell has some serious challenges ahead of him with improving SFS’ communication with students, the office’s professionalism and its ability to smartly manage the accounts of approximately 35,000 students.

While it is easy to turn SFS into a punching bag, students need to be proactive when it comes to managing their individual accounts. Handle issues immediately, visit the offices when they’re not operating during peak hours and don’t wait for SFS to place a hold on your account before acting on an issue. It’s becoming more evident that students can’t rely on SFS to seamlessly resolve their issues.

1 Comment

  1. Customer service at SFS is simply a matter of university priorities, but I guess I can understand.

    I mean, holding students (customers) ability to register for classes (the services that your customers are paying for) makes sense. Clearly it is the student’s fault for not having paced themselves at a service rate that SFS can handle. Who could possibly anticipate that college students might be inattentive at pro-actively monitoring their SFS ledger?

    After all, increasing staffing to ensure student’s efforts to address what are often SFS created problems might draw precious university funds away from critical services such as the Office of Community Relations, Office of Sustainability, the Center for Intergenerational Learning, or the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity, Advocacy and Leadership, and their Center for Social Justice and Multicultural Education.

    SFS wouldn’t happen to be staffed with union positions would it?
    Just a hunch.

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