For most universities, student affairs and financial aid are completely separate functions—yet the two share a common purpose. After all, both exist to help students make the most of their college experience.
Yet, the two rarely work together to smooth the path through their universities. Why is that the case, and how can financial aid and student affairs professionals better collaborate to address students’ needs?
Traditionally, financial aid and student affairs operate at different parts of the student lifecycle. Financial aid offices exist to help make enrollment possible to admitted students and provide ongoing assistance. In contrast, student affairs teams support everything from student-run organizations to mental health efforts.
A more productive way to visualize the relationship is as two sides of the same coin. Student affairs professionals provide the social and academic support students need to thrive at school. Financial aid offices work with students to overcome financial and logistical issues (many of which relate to broader personal challenges, like family instability, illness, or unexpected circumstances).
Sometimes, that means that neither group sees the full picture of a student’s challenges or the opportunities to provide support. For example, student affairs professionals may notice that a student is struggling but not know that financial issues contribute to their stress. In contrast, a financial aid officer may not understand that the student is dealing with isolation or depression at school. Since financial pressure is the leading reason students drop out of college, these crossed wires can have significant consequences.
These unnecessary silos are a direct result of the fact that the two functions rarely have overlap in leadership, staff, or projects. The result? Staff members miss the opportunity to get to know each other and collaborate.
When the two groups collaborate and share resources, on the other hand, they are both better equipped to help students holistically and provide the wraparound services they need to thrive.
To break down those silos and provide more integrated support, student affairs and financial aid professionals can take several key steps:
Collaborations between financial aid and student affairs teams aren’t just another administrative box to check. They are a powerful tool for supporting students through their biggest obstacles to success.
Are you working to streamline your school’s emergency aid application process? Reach out to Edquity to learn about our equitable, federally-compliant solutions.