The USC Financial Aid Office, which is preparing to send incoming freshmen their financial aid awards this week, is hoping that improvements to its process will help eliminate the confusion and concern that was prevalent last year.According to Noemi Garcia Tagorda, senior assistant dean of financial aid, the Financial Aid Office reviewed approximately 322,000 documents this year for approximately 22,000 financial aid applications. The office allocates a budget of more than $180 million dollars to more than 20,000 new and continuing students who require financial assistance.Under the direction of Katharine Harrington, dean of admission and financial aid, the Financial Aid Office has made several changes this year to speed up the process and help boost efficiency.At the beginning of this year, a number of students ran into problems with financial aid. Some students were notified that their documents had never been received, even though they had been sent. Other students had questions about their aid packages and had difficulty finding answers.To eliminate problems and confusion, Harrington initiated a dramatic redesign of the financial aid workflow.“In the past, it was mostly paper that was mailed in or faxed,” Garcia Tagorda said. “But we have this new feature called document upload. It gets information to where it needs to be so much more quickly than before.”The Financial Aid Office also redistributed staff to help process data more efficiently, even enlisting the aid of the admissions processing staff.“Things that used to take a couple of days or more are now only taking a day or two,” Garcia Tagorda said.The office also hired four new people in charge of analyzing each family’s need and two new staff members to help assemble the aid packages.“Because we have new staff, we’re really moving through it,” Garcia Tagorda said.She added that the Financial Aid Office works overtime during these weeks to ensure awards are prepared in a timely manner. USC students are hopeful that the process will indeed be more efficient this year.Monica Yap, a freshman majoring in business administration, recalled a particular incident last year that made her wonder if forms sometimes slip through the cracks.“I remember last year, for USC, we had to fax something, and it was about to be due in a couple days. And I remember USC sent this e-mail: ‘We’re sorry, there was a really high volume of faxes, and we just wanted to confirm that we got yours.’ And I thought, I guess that could definitely happen, where they just don’t get it, because so many people are turning theirs in,” she said.According to Garcia Tagorda, financial aid requires three core documents to determine awards for the majority of applications: the prior year’s tax forms, the College Scholarship Service Profile and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.“Once we’re sure we have those three core documents, we use the documents to determine a family’s expected contribution,” she said.She did note that additional documentation might be required.“Sometimes everything we need is in [the core] documents, sometimes we need a little more,” she said.Some students said the number of documents needed for financial aid can create a lot of work.“It’s just a pain applying for USC financial aid,” said Chris Rayon, a freshman majoring in philosophy. “They tell you they need the FAFSA and the CSS Profile, but after you send that in they ask for W2s and all sorts of other stuff after the deadline they give you.”With USC’s annual cost of nearly $54,000, financial aid awards are critical to many.Garcia Tagorda said the university does its best to assist students.“We want to help families out; we want to help your situation as necessary,” she said. “In the end here, this is a partnership between parents, students and the university. I hope students know that every single person [in the Financial Aid Office] really cares that a student is dealt with in a fair, equitable and timely manner.”
After two road wins over Michigan and Michigan state this past weekend, the Wisconsin volleyball team added another win to their match streak Wednesday night as they won their 14th straight match, defeating Michigan once again, 25-19, 26-24, 25-18.Friday night was a thrilling match for both Wisconsin and Michigan, as they battled through five sets. In the end, the Badgers overcame the Wolverines, but Wednesday evening, Michigan was given a second chance within a five-day period to win against Wisconsin; but this time, under the lights of the UW Field House.“All week it was a business approach from our team,” head coach Kelly Sheffield said. “It was just the next team in front of us and I think that our team is really good at being consistent with their approach and taking each match as it comes.”Set one started off well for the Badgers as the gained a 2-0 lead right from the get-go with a kill from outside hitter Ellen Chapman and a combined team block. However, that lead did not last long. There were a total of five ties in the first set, primarily due to a few hitting and service errors by both teams.Finally, with the score at 15-12, a service ace by senior right side hitter Courtney Thomas began the Badgers’ climb towards victory. Back-to-back kills by Chapman forced Michigan to call a timeout at 22-15. Michigan’s star middle blocker Abby Cole answered with a stifling kill of her own, helping her team nudge their way back into the set. Ultimately, Wisconsin’s red shirt senior Dominique Thompson demolished a kill out of the middle to win the set for Wisconsin 25-19.In the second set, defense started to become a lot more notable. Scrambling plays filled with fantastic scrappy saves and impeccable defense on both sides of the net made for long rallies. Wisconsin only allowed 35 kills off of 135 attempted assists from Michigan. According to setter Lauren Carlini, the team’s all around defense was something to be proud of.“There was a lot more discipline with the blocking and the back row working together. Last game [we were] kind of all over the place,” Carlini explained. “Our bodies weren’t in the right position. I think this game we focused in a lot more and stayed disciplined.”However, set two was an edge-of-your-seat type of set. With a total of 15 ties in this set alone, the Badgers definitely had their work cut out for them. Wisconsin had a good run going during the beginning of the match, when they were up 10-6 after Thomas tipped the ball just over a block. With good aggressive net play by Michigan, the Wolverines were able to tie the set up at 11 a piece.Finally, three kills in a row from the combined efforts of Chapman and middle blocker Haleigh Nelson propelled the Badgers towards somewhat of a lead. Michigan was not about to let up easily as they clawed their way back in, tying it up as 23 points each after a missed serve from Chapman. A kill by freshman Kelly Bates put the Badgers on top 25-24. A missed dump by Michigan setter, Lexi Dannemiller handed the set to Wisconsin, and put them ahead 2-0.The third set started out in another tug-of-war battle. Two ball handling errors in a row by Dannemiller helped the Badgers get on top 5-4. It was not until the serving efforts of Kelli Bates that Wisconsin was able to pull away with a four point lead 13-9 that kept on growing.About one rally after Cole received a monstrous kill off of a slide, the 6-foot-5 star was slow to get up after a play. She did walk slowly and unaided to the bench and stood after a few minutes, but did not return to the game after the score read 17-12.After that, the game sailed smoothly along for the Badgers. Bates and Thompson combined for a block, which was followed by a fiery kill from Thomas out of the back row, increasing their lead 22-15.To finish, a perfectly executed block by Carlini and Nelson sent the Wolverines packing, and tacked on another sweep for Wisconsin as they capped off the match 25-18.This fourteen game win streak has kept the Badgers at the top of the Big Ten and within the top ten teams in the NCAA rankings. The team takes this lightly and does not harp on the past. They stay focused and only look to the future.“It feels like we’ve just won one match and we have another one in a couple of days,” Nelson said. “[The] train keeps moving. We forget about the last one. The streak is awesome, but we’re already focused on Iowa.”The Badgers will now travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes again this Saturday night at 7 p.m.