Students discuss financial aid concerns at SenaTea


Zen Ren

A student asks Jeffrey Stevens, executive director of the Senate of College Councils, bout the financial aid wevsite at the SenaTea event Tuesday afternoon. SenaTea events reach out to students to hear their concerns and suggestions on how to provide better assistance.

Sylvia Butanda

Students voiced concerns about increasing college tuition and the structure of the student financial aid website at a discussion Monday.

The Senate of College Councils met at the Student Activities Center with the President’s Student Advisory Council for tea and discussion among students and financial aid representatives at the second SenaTea talk of the school year. The purpose of the event was to reach out to students and find out how Senate and the Office of Student Financial Aid Services can better assist students with their financial aid concerns, said business honors and finance senior Jeffrey Stevens, executive director of Senate.

“We wanted to educate students on some misinformation in regards to the cost of college and how financial aid works,” Stevens said. “We wanted students to feel like they can approach their representatives and also encouraged their feedback in how we can better the financial aid process.”

Tom Melecki, director of the Office of Student Financial Services, heard student concerns about how the possible 2.6 percent increase in tuition would affect financial aid distribution.

“As of now, there is nothing on the Board of Regent’s agenda to increase tuition,” Melecki said. “We’re going to start distributing financial aid the week of April 9, so if tuition rates do not go up by then, we will use the current tuition rates.”

Melecki said the rates of utilities and groceries in Austin are going up and, as a result, the cost of attendance will rise next school year even without the tuition increases.

“We will try to reflect that change in the cost of attendance to calculate each of the student’s eligibility for financial aid opportunities,” Melecki said.

At the event, Melecki listened to suggestions that related to UT’s financial aid website in relation to better formatting links for scholarship opportunities.

Economics senior and financial director of the Senate, Bhargav Srinivasan, offered the idea of a two-minute video where different students in need of funds can be featured and show ways students can go about applying for different types of aid.

“Our generation is so excited and engaged with short clips that help us learn about everything that when someone sees the video on the website, it will get more people to access these sources of aid,” Srinivasan said.

Printed on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 as: SenaTea allows students to raise financial aid concerns