Classified Staff Team Award goes to financial aid counselors

BOWLING GREEN, O.—More than 80 percent of Bowling Green State University students receive some form of financial aid. Helping them and their families make higher education a reality are Student Financial Aid advisers Ryan Czech, Elizabeth LeMaster, Lynette Rosebrook and Kris Sautter.

Their tireless efforts on behalf of students have earned them the 2012 Classified Staff Council Team Award. The four will share the $1,500 cash prize, presented at the annual classified staff recognition program April 18.

Rosebrook has more than 25 years experience in student financial aid and also reviews housing appeals and academic progress appeals. “Lynette is thorough, consistent and focused on student recruitment and retention,” said co-worker Connie Weaver.

Czech and Sautter began a little over a year ago but already have become key players. In addition to counseling, Czech oversees student employees and works with the academic progress appeals process. Sautter “will explore every avenue to ensure students are receiving all the financial aid they qualify for,” Weaver said.

LeMaster is scholarship and grants coordinator and a “true gem,” Weaver said. With a thorough knowledge of NCAA rules related to financial aid, she works closely with coaches, student-athletes and their parents. “She provides excellent financial aid counseling to our student-athletes from signing day to graduation.”

The financial aid office receives more than 60,000 phone calls a year and conducts about 3,200 face-to-face counseling appointments to handle some of the more complicated concerns. The team handles most of the counseling sessions, helping families make sense of the array of federal, state, institutional and private sources of funding available and treating each with respect, patience and compassion.

“Having dedicated professionals like our counselors benefits BGSU students and the greater University community,” said nominator Eric Bucks, associate director of Student Financial Aid. “If families can’t find answers to their questions, they either won’t come or won’t return to BGSU.”

One of parents’ hopes is that as their children head out into the world and confront problems or surprises, there will be people there who are sympathetic and focus on moving forward and finding solutions. That is what the Czech, LeMaster, Rosebrook and Sautter do, Bucks said. “They are problem solvers, and providing above-and-beyond service for students can sometimes mean taking ownership for helping a student steer the next best course after a problem.”

Financial problems have gotten larger as costs have increased and the tools available to student financial aid have shrunk, but “these counselors do not have the mentality of ‘passing the buck’ when it comes to encountering a problem,” said Holly Cipriani, outreach coordinator and counselor.

They also collaborate closely with administrative staff members, seamlessly integrating their counseling services. As a new employee, Cipriani said, she received tremendous help and guidance from the team, and they were a “wonderful resource” for her as she learned the intricacies of financial aid.

Despite the heavy and challenging workload, the team is noted for its positive attitude and pride in the University, both on campus and when they speak at area high schools and outreach and recruitment events.

“All four team members are enthusiastic ambassadors for BGSU,” said Bucks.

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(Posted April 19, 2012 )