Next stop, Student Financial Services with George Yanchak! George gives us a guided tour through paying your bill, contacting the HUB, important dates and deadlines, and best practices for setting up your Maymester and Summer financial aid with WVU. The journey through Student Financial Aid can feel like a long and winding drive through the country roads of West Virginia. George is here to help navigate us through the twists and turns. Lead the way, George!

Transcript

Hi everyone. And welcome to this week's episode of the Online Road Map podcast. And today we have George Yanchak with us. He is the director of the Mountaineer Hub, and George is going to be talking to us about everything pertaining to student financial services. You know how to pay your summer bill.

How did you your summer bill? Just anything student financial related. So I'd like to welcome you George, to the show. We're excited to have you here with us. Thanks for having me. I really enjoy that. Talking to students and how I can help them with paying the bill and find a financial aid to help them pay.

Fantastic. So I'm going to go ahead and jump right in here, George. So the first thing that I wanted to ask you is, you know, tell us a little bit about yourself, your affiliation with the university. Just anything that you did here. Hi. Okay. Again, my name is George Yanchak. I'm the director of the Mountaineer hub I've been here.

Well, just about six years. So I actually started 15 days before the Mountaineer hubs started. This is my second sent through WVU. I was here back in 2000. And I worked in financial aid as a grad assistant. And then I went on to work as a scholarship coordinator. I was also previously on the baseball staff here, back in early 2000.

So again, love WVU. I love helping our students and helping folks again, find a way to afford college. And to help them get those degrees. Awesome. Yeah. And we were just talking before the show a little bit there, George bought baseball season, so it's coming up right, exactly. Very excited for that. We are excited.

Let's go that nears. So yeah. So can you give us a little bit of background of WVU is financial services, what they do, what we offer, what we're here for. Absolutely. So the mountain air hub is the outward reaching office. We actually are the outward reaching, speaking persons for many offices at WVU, including student financial services.

So under that that's financial aid student accounts. Scholarships work study and also the university registrar. So we'll take any phone calls that come in. Any students that'll walk in as well as any emails that come to the office and try to help our students get those answers that they're looking for.

Very good. I know you guys get super busy, so mean it's good to get the students to know who to contact and how to contact the hub. Yeah. So Maymester is new this year. And it's part of the summer term. And I went in to see if you could give a little bit of insight into, you know, how students should go about working with financial services to make sure that their accounts are up to date, what financial aid is available.

Can you give us a little bit of a, of a look at, of what a student should do for summer term? Absolutely. So again, may masters new, but it is part of the summer program, which we have always awarded financial aid for, for students who have eligibility. So if a student is considering going to a master and or summer combined, all the student needs to do is make sure that their 2020 2021 FAFSA has been completed.

That's the majority of where financial aid will come from students can. And we also recommend the 2122 to be filed. As a matter of fact, the deadline for, I shouldn't say the priority filing date for that was two days ago. But once you register for those courses, we will look at your financial aid, determine what you're eligible for, and then send an award notification to you.

If you're not eligible for aid, we'll also send a letter concerning that. So again, the most important thing is just to go ahead and register. We will then notify you and now it won't be immediate, but again, we will send notifications to you sometime in April to let you know exactly what financial aid you're eligible for, whether it be grants, if you have loan eligibility.

But again by registering is all you have to do. To find out what financial aid you can receive. Oh, that's awesome. And I know registering for Maymester. We, we do that on March 16th, as well as summer on March 16th. So that'll be coming up soon. So once you register then, you know, everything goes to SFS, right?

George, and then you guys are able to just review that information and get back to the students, let them know what they're eligible for and work out a plan from there. Correct. That is correct. And again, because again, it's the summer may master as part of summer, the way financial aid work. And just to make everyone aware of this summer is technically a continuation of the previous fall and spring.

So federal regulations require us to award you summer based on whatever is left over. Now, if you're a Pell grant recipient from the federal government, you can receive that Pell grant in the summer, but loan eligibility could be limited based upon what you borrowed in the fall and the spring. Or again, there are private loans available as well as parent plus a, if your parents want to borrow a loan, if you're a dependent student.

So there are a number of different options out there. But the amount and the type that you can get in the summer could be limited based upon what you did this past fall and spring. Yeah. That's why it's so, so important guys, to make sure that you're connecting with a financial aid counselor from the university, because there are just so many different moving parts to this.

So it's easy just to let the experts do that work right. So that's fantastic. So in terms of financial aid, counseling, George what is typically available for students during Maymester in summer? Is that any different in terms of who's in the office or the hours that the financial aid counselors are working what does that look like for Maymester in summer?

Okay. We have the same hours year round, so our phone lines are open eight, 15 to four 45, Monday through Friday. Right now we are still working remotely. So unfortunately there's no on-campus persons there. So everything is done through the tickets ticketing system, through team dynamics, or by calling us our team dynamics tickets.

So a lot of people don't realize this, but I don't sleep well. So it's not uncommon for students to get. Answers to their emails at one, two and three o'clock in the morning. The amazing, more amazing part is that people will respond to me at that time for those tickets. So again, you can contact us for sure, by calling eight 15 to four 45, when we're open and to the public.

And we're seeing students again, that is a generally from nine to four. In-person and are we recommend again right now because of COVID to just go ahead and send us the team dynamics ticket by going to the mountain, your hub website, clicking on the contact us and sending that information to us because we are answering every ticket that we can within the hour.

And before we leave at four 45, every ticket that's submitted before that is answered before the end of the day. That's awesome. That's good to know. And it is amazing. I feel like if I'm up and I send an email to a student, I feel like they just mind must never sleep either. George, it's not just us. I feel like I also get, you know, around the clock answer.

So that's great to know. And good to know that you know, you guys are there and able to assist students you know, whether it's through the ticketing system or calls or emails. So, so really. Students can, can get to you guys whenever they need to, which was fantastic. Absolutely. Awesome. So Yeah.

So in terms of financial aid, so I know it's such a hot topic, students, especially in the summer, I feel like we get a ton of questions, you know, about what the bill is, how to pay for their bill, who to contact, what, you know, there's just a million different questions that come through our summer office too, for, for financial aid.

So do you have any best practices that students should follow when planning out their summer term or may Maymester schedules? What, what are those best practices for students when it comes to financial aid? Well, well, again, number one, the best practice is register early. If you're going to take a class.

Register as soon as you can, but you need the follow up. So again, meet with your advisor. If you're wanting to get ahead or you're taking some classes that may be that you needed to retake, or you're taking a prerequisite to make sure you get that in before the, the false starts do that as quickly. And as soon as possible, that way you can find out your bill and you'll see what type of financial aid that you're going to be eligible to receive.

Now bills, for example, in the summer, we are going to try to run those in April. So if you've registered in March, when the opening is for Maymester in summer, we're going to hopefully get that bill out right at the beginning of April. And the due date will be May 1st. And once you have registered, you receive that bill.

We're going to be packaging financial aid, but if you wait to register. Then it's possible that your financial aid can't be completed. So that's why it's very important to register as soon as possible so that we can get you financial aid out there as quickly as possible. Now, again, this is a little different term and the reason it makes it more important this year is in the past.

You've been able to register for summer. Earlier, you've been able to do that almost in the fall, in the past, which allows plenty of time for financial aid representatives in our processing area to get the financial aid package to you so that you can look at that and determine if you have enough financial aid or if you need to find other resources to help pay that summer bill.

Right now, it's going to be a very tight timeframe. So you're registering in March. We're getting that bill out to you in April. We're trying to get everyone fine. Everyone's financial aid package for the summer, including Maymester out within a two to three to four week period. So it's a very, very quick turnaround and any delays could cause you paying the bill late.

Not being able to find other resources and we don't want to ever have that happen. We wanted to make sure that by the time your class starts. You know how you're paying, you know, that you have enough money to pay and it's on, on your account and taken care of also for the summertime some in the past, again, this might be an advantage this year in the past folks would register so, so early that they would forget they registered for summer classes.

And that would mean that if they didn't pay attention to their mix account, Which again, we recommend that you check your mix account every day and if you see something that's coming from the hub, you know, that means either have a bill due or something's coming with financial aid or there's a timeline.

So if the student forgets to check that because they forgot that they registered. We would have many students who would, Oh, this large balance and never even attend the class. And that just causes problems for the student because they may get an F on their class or they may have to withdraw and make some payments to charges that they really didn't accrue because they didn't attend.

But fortunately there's not a whole lot that can be done with that. Because the class was signed up for and the student was supposed to attend. So make being very diligent on your account, checking your class, schedule, registering early. Those are some of the very important things that we would recommend.

Is there some great pieces of advice or George? You did mention one thing I wanted to go a little bit further into, so I know that you said that the hub sends messages to mix. What other forms of communications? Like where, where would the hub alert students? Is it just in their mixed accounts or do they send it to their portal or like, how would, how would a student get notifications from financial aid?

That is a great question. And thanks for bringing that up for Amber there's a number of different ways that we communicate. So on the portal, every student will, when they log in, they're going to see their balance due. It's one of the first things they should see is what their balance is. Also. We have worked with it to make sure that students can see if they're missing any information that needs to be turned in before their financial aid could be finalized.

We tell students that they have aid that hasn't been offered. And we also tell them if they have folks any proxy, so anyone that's allowed to talk on their behalf. So we want those students to be aware of that. So that's available to them on the proxy. We do email a bill once a month. We will also email, I should, I should say regularly, but not maybe every month the students, if there are missing documentation, if they need to accept aid that hasn't been accepted as of yet.

We also text message to remind everyone that bills are due or they have financial aid. So we do communicate a number of different ways. Number one is on the portal. Like I said, with notifications, looking at your star account number two is getting emails coming from a hub. You can't reply back to the hub, but that email does come from the hub.

And then again, we do text message when it gets very close to deadlines, we want to make sure we're reaching out to those students. So you'll get a text message about that. We also have a we use the WVU dot verify my FAFSA website. For any students that are missing documentation. So we do also send out text messages and emails.

If you're assigned into those for text messages, we send those once a week, also as a reminder to say, Hey, you have some documents that you need to turn in and we can't do your financial aid. And so you've turned in those documents. So again, we do communicate a number of different ways. We also use social media to let you know of any events or deadlines or priority filing dates that are coming up.

Yeah. Those are all great, George. And I wanted to remind students if. You know, you have an old phone number on file. You might want to get that updated because I feel like those text messages are awesome that come from the hub. So any information that you have on file, you know, you want to make sure that it's the most updated and recent that way.

You're, you're sure to get all of those communications which are. Super important. Right? You don't want to be removed from classes because, because of your bill. So make sure that's all up to date and check your mics account regularly. I tell students that all the time, Jerry that's like my number one you know, My number one lesson.

Like you, you have to check mics because every, every department at the universities is mixed. Right. We emailed to mix you guys email to mix registrar. I mean, just advisors, just everybody. Right? So check your mix, email accounts. It's super, super important. So thank you for that, especially if it's yeah, I was just going to mention, to add on to that.

If it says WVU on there in any of those Accounts that you're receiving now again, I know some students will forward their Mex account to maybe their other account, the one that they use, which is also fine. It's just that when you see something that's coming from WVU anywhere, you know, again, I'm speaking on behalf of the hub and a student financial services, but any department on campuses, as Amber said, it's going to be going straight to you.

So you want to make sure you read it. It's not junk mail. If it's coming from WVU, it's something that we want you to know. Right, right. And if you open it and it's, you know, a club or something that you're not interested in, you can delete that, but at least, you know, right. At least, you know, it's not something super important.

So good piece of advice there. Thank you, George. So what, it comes time for a student to pay their bill for Maymester in summer, how would they go about doing that? Well, again, the good news is there are a number of different Options out there. So if you are eligible for financial aid and that financial aid is going to assist you in paying the bill or pay the full thing, you'll see the information on your account.

One thing to be aware of is if you're expecting money back to help you pay for rent. So once we pay your bill, your bill is paid in full. Or if you have money that hasn't come in yet, but we ha we know that it's here because you've done alone. We've certified the loan to the site here yet. That will count as paying your bill.

We also have payment plans that you can sign up for, but you'll need to be on the lookout for those, because they're only open for a short period of time. And you can make those payments online. If you're expecting, as I said a little bit, if you're expecting a to refund check to help you with your rent or help you pay for your utilities or your food, one thing he have to be aware of for loans as with always during the school year, fall spring, or here, you have to be at least half time after time has a different number of hours for each.

Level of students. So for undergraduates, halftime is six hours. So before we can pay any of those loans to your account, you have to have started six hours. Here's the catch with Maymester. So Maymester the maximum you can register for is five hours. That means if you were expecting a refund to you to help pay for your rent, when Maymester starts, I can tell you right now, that's not going to occur.

Just because five hours is below the halftime requirement for undergraduate students. Now for graduate students, they are only required to be in three hours to be considered time in the summer. So a graduate student could have money pay onto their account. Before the semester technically starts and receive financial aid in can approximately when the first class starts for summer classes.

Now, if you're a student, that's going to take six hours over the summer, but you're going to take three hours at the first part of the term and three hours. And the second part of the term. Well, again, even though you have financial aid, that's going to show that your bill is paid in full. We are not going to be able to send you a refund check until you actually start that second class.

So we can't send you a refund check to help you pay for rent in June. Until you started that class, which will be technically towards the end of June. So that's a big misconception that, Oh, our students think that they can get that money always upfront and always early. But again, it all depends on when your classes are registered and how many hours you're going to be in.

Okay. And just to clarify that, George, so a student who wants to take Maymester if they took a three credit Maymester course and then started an early term summer course, which they can do then, you know, if it was three credits and three credits, then they would receive that after that first term, or how would that work?

Right. Once the first summer term starts not counting may master the first actual summer term, then we would be able to pay the financial aid if you're half-time at that point. And then if there's any refund that's due to you for your living expenses, we could send at that time, but we wouldn't be able to send that money when may master started.

Right. Yes. Totally makes sense. All right guys, that's a, that's an important piece of advice too. That's something that George I've never been asked before. So I actually learned something today, too.

Thank you for that. Now I know how to better answer students, so that's, that's awesome. So we already touched on, you know, when bills are due and all of that good stuff. So in terms of student contacting students contacting the financial aid or SFS what are the best ways for students to get in contact with, with financial services?

So, again right now in the summer, we are still working remotely. The number one way, and to get a very quick response is to just go ahead and go to our mountain, your hub.wvu.edu website, click on the contact us and submit a ticket through the team dynamics system. And as I said, we are able to get the answer to you very quickly or directly to the site that you may need to know.

Otherwise, if you do need to call us, you can give us a call. Just one thing to always remember is lunchtime is always the busy time. And the lunchtime is the busy time because not only is it lunch for a number of people, it's also lunch for our staff. So that's when we are short because we may have two or three folks out of the time.

So you get the lunches in some of our folks start as early as for lunch at 10:30 AM and finish as late as 2:30 PM. So we try to have our lunches spread out so that we can optimize that lunch lunchtime for folks to call in. But the best time to reach us is from eight 15 to about 10 15 or after two 30.

But again, you can call us at any time. And we do have staff that are available to help. The wait time is been very short right now. I think our average wait time has been 20 to 25 seconds. But there are times at lunchtime when it gets up to two minutes. So call us at any time. But if you don't want to wait online, if you call and you think, you know what, this could be a tough time to call.

I'm just going to send in a ticket and we are able to get those to you within the hour as well. Well, 25 seconds. That is fantastic. George, not as quick. So that's good news for our students who need to call in. So what information should a student have ready when they call in? Like, do they need their student ID number, date of birth, or what information should they have readily available?

Because I know that's something that sometimes our students don't know off the top of their head. So when they are calling, what should they have ready? That's a great question. So our phone prompts, when a student calls in and we actually let them know that to be prepared, have their 800 number there, West Virginia university ID number, and most people have an 800 number I'm so old.

Mine was 700. So. Yeah, that way you can have it. It actually gives you an option to type it into your phone as well. We don't recommend that you do that while you're driving. We, we recommend no one call while they're driving, because again, we don't want you to be distracted. So but again, if you are calling in, you can enter that on your phone.

And then we, when you, we answer the call for you, that information and we'll be there. But again, what we need from you is your ID number. Now, if you're having someone call on your behalf, You need to make sure that you have set up proxy information. Earlier. Now that could be, if you're a dependent student and you want your parent or your grandparent or your guardian to be able to talk, we will even talk to a boyfriend, a girlfriend, if that person has specific permissions by going to the GEPA proxy and filling out the for performance parent guest portal.

Now, if you're a. Independent student and you're calling again, we would want your ID number or if your spouse is going to be speaking to us just again, I'm sure that that information has already been entered before the call begins, because we do get a number of callers who are not happy that we can't give them specific information.

We can give general information. So if you're calling to find out, Hey, when is the date this is due, or what can I do to make sure this is all taken care of? We can do that. But if you're calling us saying I need to no, the bill or w what part of my financial aid is missing. We need to either be talking to you, the student, or if you are having us speak to someone on your behalf, make sure that a parent guest portal was set up so that we know who it is, and they know their password.

And I will tell you that some of the passwords, you need to make sure that you give them a really good password, but one parent actually has to sing. Baby got back, which is kind of funny, but speak careful passwords you give out. That is funny. That's too much. That's a. That's a good parent child relationship right there.

Well, I like to end each episode with a piece of advice from our guests. I feel like you guys always have such good advice for our students. So if you could offer one piece of advice for our students about summer and Maymester and student financial services, what would that be? Again, it's probably going to be something I already talked about, which is if, if they master and summer or something that you want to do, make sure that you plan appropriately.

So again, you can talk to us in advance, you can find out what loan eligibility you have register as quickly as you can for the courses that you need so that we can get the financial aid out to you. Follow your bill, you know, make sure you know, the payment due dates. So again, if you register now, you should get the bill in early April to pay it in May.

If you register late, then again, you're going to be having a difficult time, trying to make sure that you have enough time by the time the bill may be due. So do it early. Check your account often. And again, just make sure you concentrate on the classwork again. I know summertime is very busy cause you're condensing a lot.

You're getting a lot more information in a shorter amount of time. So just make sure that you are staying on top of all of your classes. Don't be afraid to ask for tutoring. And that's one of the biggest things I did as a coach was to make sure that all the students knew that asking for tutoring, isn't a bad thing.

The smartest people need to ask for help in things at times, and don't be afraid to ask for help. And again, I know with Amber and the staff over at online, they offer a number of resources and are available. And if you do have questions about financial aid, your account transcripts or anything, you can give the hub a call.

And if we can't answer those, what we're going to do is make sure we find someone to help you. So again, do it early. Check your account often, and then don't be afraid to ask for help. Those are great, great, great pieces of advice. Yeah. It's always important to make sure that you're communicating with the university with SFS, with advising with us.

There's a ton of resources out there and we are here to help, right. George, that's our, that's our whole goal. So. All right. Well George, I really appreciate your time today and taking some time to talk with us and get some, get some information out to the students. This has been super, super helpful.

So thank you so much. Well, thank you for having me number and again, any questions out there, please feel free to give us a call. All right. Thank you so much. And guys, we will see you all next time on the online roadmap and everybody have a good rest of your day. Thank you. Bye.