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Committee on Financial Aid to Students

The Committee met six times during the 2009-10 academic year. There was significant progress on a number of issues identified in the previous academic year.
1. Scholarship award gift aid and ‘displacement’ policies: In the past, Office of Student Financial Services (OSFS) policies often resulted in displacement or reduction of OSFS awards when a student received a scholarship from another source, such as a UT department or college. Revised policies developed in consultation with the committee were presented by OSFS Director Melecki in February, and subsequently endorsed by the committee and accepted by the vice president for student affairs. The main effect will in most cases be no reduction in OSFS awards when a student receives another scholarship, except when required by federal or other law.
2. Appeals process modifications: committee involvement with student appeals of OSFS decisions in 2008-09 indicated a need for clarification of appeals policies. Modifications to the policy handbook were completed in March 2010 with participation and review by the committee. These have been sent by OSFS Director Melecki to the vice president for student affairs for approval and publication, effective fall 2010.
3. Surveying student satisfaction with the OSFS: A fall 2009 customer service survey showed similar responses to a survey conducted two years earlier, although the number of participants was relatively small (fifty-one).
4. Direct Federal Student Loans: The UT administration decided in March 2010 to eliminate participation in the private lender program for student loans, and to change to direct federal lending. This decision preceded the act of Congress which ended the private lender program.
5. A subcommittee of four faculty members on the committee conducted the review and ranking of scholarship candidates for the Ron Brown Scholarships, awarded to dependents of UT employees. Nine scholarships of $1000 each will be awarded for 2010-11 academic year.
6. UT Student Government has established an agency to be an interface between students and the OSFS. This activity is separate from the committee, which already includes a number of Student Government representatives (four this year). Some coordination and communication between the two groups may be anticipated in the future.

Patricia Somers, chair