Business Services Employees Take Care of Students' Business
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
May 2, 2007
Business services senior assistant Sherry Paterson helps
junior Brianne Rafford-Varley
At this time of year, the business office is fairly quiet.
But at the beginning of the school year, and then again
in January when second semester begins, lines of students
weaves out the door. Sherry Paterson handles refunds to
students whose financial aid exceeds their charges. She
also posts tuition charges and payments, handles enrollment
and housing deposits and helps process the monthly tuition
“There’s a huge volume; it’s amazing,” Paterson
says. “We’ll be gearing up for fall semester
soon. Charges will start getting posted the beginning of
July. It will be very busy with incoming freshmen and that’s
Paterson notes providing good customer service to students
and parents is just about the best part of her job. Her
goal is to make sure they get the information they need.
The office has six service windows but expands to 11 when
necessary. During the first few days of the fall and spring
semester, when lines are out the door, the crew relies on
volunteers and work-study students to keep things flowing
“Work-study students are part of our front line,” Paterson
says, “as they help answer the many phone calls that
Business Services receives.”
Leslye Bridges spends most of her time processing third-party,
PLUS (parent) and Stafford loans. Payments from the biggest
lenders are received weekly. The rosters cover thousands
of students. That means making sure the amount of money
received jibes with her records before the funds can be
disbursed to students.
“There’s a lot to learn about loans because
there are so many different kinds,” Bridges says. “Right
now we’re not that busy but this summer, once the
bills go out, it will be crazy in here.”
Every semester, Luke Cahoon has to boil down the explanations
of a few hundred students into two or three sentences as
part of the process to get their $100 late fees forgiven.
In the fall of 2006, that had him reading 267 petitions.
Some students get right to the point. Some write paragraphs.
“It’s not a complicated process but it’s
an awful lot of work,” Cahoon says. “Generally,
there are between 200 and 300 every semester.”
A drawer full of late fee petitions
After he’s condensed the reason for the lateness,
Cahoon gives his opinion on whether the petition should
be granted and then passes the file along to the others
involved in the decision.
And that’s just one part of Cahoon’s senior
business service assistant job in Business Services. He
also answers all of the department’s email and helps
graduate students and teaching assistants who use payroll
deductions. Ninety percent of his time is spent on the computer.
“The tricky part about graduate students is, they
don’t always know at the beginning of the semester
what they’re going to be doing,” Cahoon says. “Sometimes
they have to fill out multiple forms. I try to make that
all flow as smoothly as possible.”