College of Coastal Georgia News

College opens renovated financial aid office space
Posted 02/15/2019 10:56AM

By Lauren McDonald

The Financial Aid Department cut the ribbon on their new office space at the College of Coastal Georgia.

The College of Coastal Georgia hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday to officially open its new office space for the Financial Aid Department. Photo by Lauren McDonald/The Brunswick News

A box of tissues sits on nearly every employee's desk in the Financial Aid Department at the College of Coastal Georgia.

A financial aid advisor's job goes beyond guiding students through applications for money to pay for their college education and providing students with advice on financial responsibility.

Students regularly bring these counselors more than questions about financial aid. They bring stories of struggle, emotional testimonies that capture the many obstacles they must overcome to pay for a degree.

"We get a lot more stories of things that we probably didn't want to know about," said Terral Harris, director of financial aid at the college.

And until recently, students at Coastal Georgia had to relay those woes in a cubicle, with others sitting only feet away and in easy hearing distance.

The college celebrated Thursday the financial aid department's move into a new, renovated, larger space that comes with, most importantly, more walls and doors to close.

The need for more privacy was a major motivator for the move, Harris said.

"We have been begging for it," she said. "It was all about making sure that we have the adequate space that we needed to have the privacy, and all of that other stuff, so we can counsel students, especially with the financial literacy."

The college hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday to officially open the new space. A few final decorations and some signage had yet to be added, but student financial aid needs don't stop, so the office moved ahead with the ceremony. Even as the workers were setting up for the ribbon cutting Thursday, they frequently stopped to ask students who walked in if they'd come for financial aid assistance.

But all were there for the ceremony.

"This has been a long time coming, and we're excited to be able to open up this beautiful, new space for our Financial Aid Department," said Jason Umfress, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at the college.

The Financial Aid Department employs two counselors, and other staff, but has office space for more. The new office area will provide students with a space in which they feel safe and supported, said Michelle Johnston, president of the college.

"It's about our students being successful and having the support and the resources they need," she said.

Johnston also thanked the financial aid team for the support they give students daily.

"Your work is difficult, but it's very, very important," Johnston said.

Umfress also gave credit to Meg Amstutz, who served as interim president at the college last year. Umfress said Amstutz got the ball rolling on this project.

Harris said she'll now finally be able to stop asking for "walls, walls, walls."

"I just want to thank everybody who signed something to make this happen," she said. "It has been a long time coming."

Reprinted with the permission of The Brunswick News. Published online at The Brunswick News.

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