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The creation of a student advisory board for Student Financial Services was announced at a kickoff reception held in the Franklin Building. 

Photo: Sophia Lee

After a delay, student leaders and Student Financial Services are taking steps to finalize the student financial advisory board proposed last December in order to bridge relations between the student body and SFS.

Student leaders gathered Monday evening in the Office of Student Registration and Financial Services to celebrate the inauguration of the Student Financial Services Advisory Board. The Undergraduate Assembly, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and representatives from the 5B groups, Penn’s main cultural umbrella organizations, were all in attendance.

The board’s objectives are two-fold: first, to work with SFS to generate policies and content that help students and second, to communicate information more effectively to the student body.

“The investment in transparency is really the biggest piece of the board,” University Director of Financial Aid Joel Carstens said. “We want to be able to learn from students about how we can be better at what we do.”

Although planning for the advisory board is currently in its final stages, students shied away from discussing the specifics of what the advisory board would work on. Student groups are currently drafting the Advisory Board’s constitution, Tariq said.

Now a year after its initial proposal, the idea for the student advisory board came out of a December 2013 meeting between the 5B groups and SFS staff.

“We were talking with SFS about how interactions between students and SFS are more difficult for the students we represent,” said UMOJA Planning and Facilitating Co-Chair Abrina Hyatt. “We wanted to bridge the relationship between students and SFS and guide future efforts.”

Over the last year, student groups across campus have jumped on board.

“This is exciting because students use SFS so much and now we get to communicate our concerns to a board that has the power to change policies,” UA representative and College sophomore Taha Tariq said. “We get to make an impact on other students we represent.”

Some groups have been more involved than others. “We don’t know where we tie into it yet,” School of Design graduate student and GAPSA representative Taylor Knoche said. “We didn’t really have any issues other than loans not being reimbursed right away.”

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