Credit hours, financial aid, student loans — keeping track of the college financial whirl can make you dizzy.
At the Student Service Court, things are suddenly less complicated.
The court, located on the first floor of the Bovee University Center, offers a "one-stop shop" for CMU students' financial matters, from financial aid to billing to registrar's office issues, Dan Odykirk, manager of the Student Service Court, said.
On a typical day, the four Student Service Advisors on staff accept payments, offer financial aid advice and field all kinds of questions:
"Did my financial aid go through?"
"If I drop a class, will I lose my financial aid? Will I get a refund? And if so, when?"
"Can I apply for student loans?"
Years ago, students had to travel to a variety of campus offices for answers to these questions. Grouping all financial services together makes sense, Odykirk said.
"We're able to look at the whole picture," he said. "We know how many credit hours a student is taking and how much that costs. We know the financial aid process and can find out if aid and scholarships have been applied. We can go beyond giving a student an amount that they owe, and explain why that number is what it is."
Parents can call the Student Service Court with billing or financial aid questions, but their student has to take an important step first: authorize the parent, or other family member, to speak with a staff member about their account.
"Otherwise, we can't tell them anything," Odykirk said. "Even if they're the ones paying the bills."
A federal law known as FERPA — the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — protects the privacy of student education records.
But it's a simple step to authorize family members to access financial information, Odykirk says. Students can complete the form online through the student portal, CentralLink.
Once that's done, parents or other designated individuals can receive billing notifications via email, make payments on a student's account or discuss financial questions.
"We know paying for college and keeping it all straight is a big endeavor," Odykirk says. "Here, we're able to look at all the pieces and talk about them all at the same time.
No appointments are necessary at the Student Service Court. Students can walk in any time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Questions? Call the Student Service Court at 888-610-4991 or email at email@example.com.