Financial Aid Services holds Fireside Chat to discuss integration

by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Staff Reporter

The panelists explaining their presentation slides. Photo by Raneen El-Barbarawi.

As the anxiety and curiosity of inquisitive students arose, Roosevelt University and Robert Morris’s financial aid services decided to hold a fireside chat to discuss concerns regarding tuition and fees.

Financial Aid directors from both universities, as well as the athletic director, John Jaramillo, of Roosevelt University, spoke on Feb. 18 at 2:30 p.m. about what to expect from their services in regards to the Roosevelt and Robert Morris merger.

During this event, they covered topics on how to submit the 2020-2021 free application for federal student aid (FAFSA), academic and athletic scholarships, institutional aid and residence hall rates for RMU.

Michelle Stipp, Roosevelt’s director of financial aid services, explained that they held this event because they “wanted to provide an opportunity for students to ask questions about financial aid as it relates to the integration.”  They also wanted to “share specifics on things like the payment plan, tuition and how scholarships, including athletic scholarships, will be handled.”

Stipp also discussed how Roosevelt’s financial aid services plan on introducing Robert Morris to their payment plans and Navigate app.

Students like Martin Serrano, 20, a junior at Robert Morris University majoring in computer science, spoke on his thoughts from the event.

“I thought it was alright. It kind of gave me a bit more confidence on what to expect from Roosevelt,” Serrano said. “I just hope that some of the stuff for Robert Morris doesn’t get thrown away entirely. I know they’re going to ‘throw away the building,’ which seems like a waste. They should turn it into a high school or something.”

Staff members from both schools spoke about their thoughts from the event.

“I thought it was great. I thought it was very informative in terms of the new things that are happening with financial aid (specifically answering a lot of questions that are specific to Robert Morris), and making sure that those students are getting the support that they need in the transition,” said Jamar Orr, the assistant provost for student affairs and dean of students.

“I’m happy that they put it on because students have a lot of questions about financial aid, and I think it just clarified and solidified some of the things that were already stated previously. But, again, reminded students of the importance of completing the FAFSA and that their scholarships won’t change,” said Angela Jordan, the vice president of student affairs and the chief diversity equity and inclusion officer at Robert Morris.

One of the slide presentations discussing tuition from the Fireside Chat. Photo by Raneen El-Barbarawi.

Indeed, they made it clear that there will be differences in terms of athletic and academic scholarships for both schools according to financial aid for each student.

However, Felicia Foster, a financial aid services counselor said, “I know there are going to be a ton of questions moving forward and I’m glad that we were able to open up a door for those questions.”

In fact, she made it clear that students should visit their office, located at 1M16, if they have further questions.

Foster also reflected on the importance of merging schools.

“Merging schools is a big deal. I know other schools have done it, but it’s different when it affects you, and so it’s affecting the staff and students and I think it’s important to make sure that everyone understands that we know it’s a big deal.”

“It was important because it’s completely different. When you go from one university to another, you don’t necessarily know their structure, payment plans, their options or deadlines. So making sure that they’re prepared on day one to have the information that they need to be successful is really important,” Orr added.

Michelle Hayes, the director of financial services at Robert Morris, then spoke on the importance of the event.

“I thought it was very important that we held the event to get the word out to our students. We are committed to them being successful, we want them to stay enrolled, we want them to succeed… we really do think that this integration and merger is going to be a benefit to our students.”

“Having an open forum was critical. There are FAQs on our website, but hosting an in-person discussion allowed us to meet directly with students and hear their questions,” Stipp added. 

Staff members then spoke on what they’re looking forward to in terms of the integration.

“Everyone I met at Roosevelt is very nice; we have no concerns about working with anybody. Every time there’s a merger you have some concerns about how it’s going to go, but everyone I have met here has been above and beyond kind, so I’m looking forward to working with them,” said Hayes.

Stipp also added that, “all the folks I’ve met from Robert Morris have been great and just wonderful to work with. We’re all working together with the students’ experience front and center. I’m excited to move forward as one university.”

Orr also explained that he’s looking forward to having and supporting more students. “Having them mix in with our students is going to be really exciting and it’s also going to give us an opportunity to change the energy on campus.”

“Together, everyone achieves more,” Jordan said. 

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