Major changes coming to FSCJ's financial aid process

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Big changes are coming to the financial aid department of Florida State College at Jacksonville.

On Tuesday, FSCJ president Dr. Cynthia Bioteau said she wants to be transparent and accountable. Bioteau acknowledged serious problems within financial aid.

Under previous administrators, including under former President Steve Wallace, there was a string of problems discovered in the financial aid department.

Several of the problems FSCJ discovered were:

-The insufficient financial aid documents collected by the college for student's financial aid appeals.

-The inadequate application of an automated process used to assign students to the program of studies.

-The inaccurate processing of financial aid for students in clock hour programs. Clock hour programs are career/vocational, non-college credit programs.

Those errors in the financial aid department reportedly cost the school at least $2.5 million

Now the President said under this review, there will be a repayment to the U.S. Department of Education.

The department will be outsourcing functions which in total could affect 12 positions.

"I have made the determination that several functions of college's financial aid offices are better accomplished for our students by outsourcing significant portions to an organization of proven professionals," Bioteau said Tuesday.

The president also stated that there may be not be a renewal of contracts for some, that positions may be eliminated, and that they will have to review all the school accounts and identify any surplus property for repayment.

A spokesperson for FSCJ said a comprehensive review of budget and personnel is also being conducted across functional programs to determine jobs that will be eliminated.

"We are currently thoroughly scrubbing our budgets to identify any and all possible funds for repayment, making sure that we take care not to impact the students educational process in this process itself," Bioteau said Tuesday afternoon in a press conference.

President Bioteau said she did not know the full extent of the repayment amount and if there will be any penalties assessed by the U.S. Department of Education.

On the downtown campus of FSCJ, students were reacting to what they called a frustrating experience when it comes to financial aid.

Victoria Eisenhower is an English major at FSCJ. She is a senior at the school.

"Yeah, I love it," she said. "I would like to be an English teacher."

Though she enjoys her school, she says there's something that is frustrating..

"Financial aid is very difficult to deal with," Eisenhower said. "There's a lot of things that definitely need to be fixed with it. The whole process is difficult for anybody to have to go through."

Eisenhower said though her eyes, the school's image has taken a hit because of financial aid troubles. She said she is hopeful about the changes

"We're trying to better our future and I think it's important that we have all the resources available that we can to make that happen," Eisenhower said. "The easier the process, the more people are likely to go to college."

First Coast News also caught up with Harrison Armstrong, who is also a senior at FSCJ. He was heading to take care of some of something with his own financial aid.

"In my case, I am in debt right now, due to student loans, so it's pretty frustrating for me," he said.

Armstrong also spoke about his thoughts on the president's announcement

"I believe the intent is good, just to let everybody know what's going on. But, it's going to take a little more than just telling people that it's per-se going to be alright," he said.

President Bioteau said the process has already begun and no students have been impacted by the "mistakes of the college."

"These steps will be actionable and accountable ... " Bioteau said.


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