The first of two candidates for director of Financial Aid discussed his goals for the future of the department at Cal State Fullerton during an open forum Wednesday.
Tae Kang, currently a senior programs manager at the California Student Aid Commission, discussed trends he has seen during his work with the commission that have challenged the financial aid institutes in California, including rising tuition costs and a trend toward tuition guarantees for students.
Tuition at California State University campuses has doubled in the last five years, and nearly $630 million in student grants have been invested in 23 CSU campuses, but there is still a deficiency for student aid, he said.
Kang wants to simplify financial aid by streamlining the process for students and removing unnecessary roadblocks that make it difficult for students to navigate the financial aid process.
One of the ways Kang said he would like to simplify this process for students is by using social media and apps they can relate to.
He added that financial aid jargon confuses students instead of making it easier for them to finance their education.
Kang also discussed the trend of campuses offering a tuition guarantee, where students pay the same tuition rate all four years regardless of fee increases.
“That means that students, when they come in, they know for certain that their tuition is not going to ever increase,” Kang said. “That decreases the stress.”
Implementing incentives such as a tuition discount for those who have taken 16 units or more each semester will encourage students to be committed to an earlier graduation, he said.
During his presentation, Kang discussed his past experience and how it would benefit him as director of Financial Aid.
He discussed past financial aid directors he has worked under, and said that he would like to emulate their traits of diligence and passion for excellence.
He added that he would like to be a voice for his staff and, in turn, to encourage his staff to be a voice for students.
“I know financial aid often gets picked on, stepped on, we’re like the gum on the bottom of the shoe, and I think a lot of it is out of our control,” he said.
“But some of it is, and the things that are in our control … I would like our staff to work together to get there to also be available to also be a voice for our students,” he said.
Kang, who has worked in the financial aid offices at UC Davis and UC Irvine, said he wanted to get back to a college campus to be among students.