Ithaca College’s Office of Student Financial Services (SFS) has become notorious for poor communication among the college’s students. Not having a cohesive line of communication with them has caused severe stress in the lives of some students. Depending on who they have spoken to at SFS, students have been given a different answer to their financial situation.
Thankfully, the question of what SFS can do to relieve undue stress for students and ease the load of financial burden is finally starting to be addressed. According to Shana Gore, executive director of Student Financial Services, SFS is planning on making reforms and expanding its capacity so that it can better help students work through their financial problems. Such reforms include improvements in more personalized communication and streamlining the general process. Transparent communication is a must when dealing with financial matters — this is the least SFS can offer. The office is going a step further by expressing interest in creating optional courses that would help increase the financial literacy of students. While these reforms are necessary and encouraging, they do not solve the larger systemic issues students continue to be burdened by.
The American student loan system is brutal and does not care about the individual. SFS cannot continue to uphold the same impersonal, burdensome mentality. It is OK to feel hopeful about the SFS reforms as it is promising, but we must remain critical of the — at times — all-consuming financial struggles students endure. When we become systematically desensitized to the absurdity of institutional cost, we lose. Continuing to hold these systems accountable and demand transparent and accurate information will always be necessary. While SFS is set to improve, the Ithaca College community must urge the office to see the person behind the tuition payment.