Student Academic & Financial Affairs Committee (SAFAC)

Minutes of SAFAC Meetings for Calendar Year 2009-2010

By Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE, CHAIR)

I.                   Minutes of SAFAC meeting , Fall 2009   Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Location: POOLE Board Room, ISYE Main Building.

Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR, Paul Seft (Registrar representing Reta Pikowsky), Robert McEntyre (Student Government), Christophe Ippolito (Modern Languages)

The meeting began at 2:05pm. The primary agenda was to elect the Committee Chair for the year and set meeting times and agenda.  We welcomed both the new and returning members, reviewed the activities of the previous year and discussed progress vis-à-vis the charge of the Committee.  It was agreed that we should pay some more attention to student driven issues.  The student members of the Committee wanted us to address an ongoing student generated concern namely DEAD WEEK. This was a concern that had been raised previously but did not go through the Senate.  Consequently, an invitation was extended the Student leaders in Student Government to visit and engage our Committee at our next meeting.  SAFAC committee members were advised to familiarize themselves with the tasks and operation of the Senate Committees, including ours and the SRC.  For background information on this issue, as well as previous minutes representing actions of this committee, the Committee members were advised to please visit:
http://www.facultysenate.gatech.edu/CommittMin008-009.htm

The Committee considered issues raised by the Office of the Registrar relative to excused absences.  

The meeting adjourned at 2:50pm.

 

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II.                   Minutes of SAFAC Meeting Thursday,  October 08, 2009

Location: Poole Board Room, MAIN Building of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering,  755 Ferst Drive, CAMPUS

Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR, Paul Seft (Registrar representing Reta Pikowsky), Robert McEntyre (Student Government), Christophe Ippolito (Modern Languages), Craig Tovey (ISYE)

The meeting began at 3:05 pm.  We had a guest from the Student Government Council who briefed  us on their work on student concerns about DEAD WEEK. This was our primary topic for this month's meeting.  Members had been previously advised to familiarize themselves with the topic by visiting the Institute Statute’s previous position on this topic.  It was recalled that another Senate Committee, the Student Regulatory Committee (SRC), had made efforts towards clarifying the Statute’s verbiage on SGA’s submission but their recommendation was tabled by the Academic Senate. The issues were restated by the student presenter for the benefit of those unfamiliar with them.  The Committee discussed the recommendations and was generally supportive of SGA’s position. We however had serious concerns about their position especially relative to project courses and capstone senior design courses whose deliverables may be due during Dead Week. We made suggestions to accommodate these.  We additionally felt the verbiage needed further clarification before we could fully support it.  We provided the inputs which would enhance the possibility of the total package’s  acceptance by the Senate and required SGA to incorporate them prior to our full endorsement.  The SGA rep at our meeting found our inputs beneficial and pledged to take them back to SGA and get back to our Committee at our next meeting. The next meeting was scheduled for Thursday, November 12 at 3:00p

The meeting ended at 3:00pm

 

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III.                Minutes of SAFAC’s Meting  of Thursday November 12, 2009

Location : The POOLE Board Room  located in the MAIN Building of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering,  755 Ferst Drive, CAMPUS. 

 Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR,  Reta Pikowsky(Registrar), Robert McEntyre (Student Government), Christophe Ippolito (Modern Languages), Craig Tovey (ISYE),  Susan Burns (CEE)

 

The meeting started at 3:05pm.  We reviewed the revised submission by SGA concerning DEAD WEEK policy and found them acceptable.  The Chair was mandated to communicate SAFAC’s position to the Student Regulations Committee (SRC) prior to its presentation to the Fall Meeting of the General Faculty and Academic Senate.  The committee was unanimous in its support of the spirit behind the Dead Week policy and its inclusion on the Institute calendar.

We opened up discussions on plausible topics for the Committee and decided that some attention needed to be paid to other issues such as financial resources and financial aid policies.  We are however open to new ideas about other issues to consider.  To be better briefed about these issues, it was decided to extend invitations to both the Director of Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid and the Dean of Students to discuss their experiences on these matters with SAFAC.

The Committee then discussed issues with Excused Class Absence requests and provided advice to the Registrar on how to deal with them.  During the ensuing discussions, it was further revealed that despite the paperwork demand on the Registrar’s office for these approved excuse letters, there was an increasing  tendency for the students not to pick them up on a timely basis and often times not pick them up at all.  

The meeting adjourned at 4:00pm

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IV.                Minutes of SAFAC meeting , Spring 2010 Thursday January 28, 2010

Location: The POOLE Board Room  located in the MAIN Building of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering,  755 Ferst Drive, CAMPUS. 

Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR, Paul Seft (Registrar representing Reta Pikowsky), Robert McEntyre (Student Government), Christophe Ippolito (Modern Languages)

Special Guest/Speaker: Marie Moms (Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid)

The Committee decided to devote some attention this semester to issues that directly impact students primarily of a financial nature with a view to gaining a deeper understanding of the nature and magnitude of the problems. The possible impact of these problems on student academics and overall total person development concept was of consequent interest.  The Chair invited Ms. Marie Moms, the Director of the GT Office of Scholarships and Financial Aids who obliged and addressed the Committee.

Ms.  Moms’ presentation addressed the following areas: (i) overview of some pertinent statistics which gave a paintbrush of the issues (ii) rising cost of a Georgia Tech education, (iii) dramatic increase in financial “need”, (iv) the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Program, (v) Undergraduate Loans, (v) Graduate Student Loans.

Some startling statistics on financial aid applications over the three year period 2007 to 2010 were revealed. They include: a 21% increase in total number of students submitting an application for financial aid, a 15% increase in number of enrolled applicants, an 18% increase in number of enrolled applicants with demonstrated need and a whopping 126% increase in number of applicants submitting appeals for special consideration.

There appeared to be a continuing trend in the dramatic increases with respect to costs for GT undergraduate education.  Over the past four years from 2006 to 2010, the cost for Georgia residents rose from $14, 832 to $18,330 or a 23% increase while that for non-resident undergrads rose by 21%  from $30,178 to $36,540. The number of enrolled undergrads with identified “need” rose to 4,898 in 2010 with an aggregate need amount of $70.6 million.

And what is Tech doing to address these near financial crisis encumbered by the students?  A standout program known as G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise program which targets undergraduates from Georgia with family income less than $33,000 is one response.  In this “debt free” program, each recipient is offered a Federal Work Study job for 15 hours per week and scholarships and grants to meet all costs. There were 232 participants in this program during the 2009-2010 year.  Of these recipients, 64 are freshmen, and 14 are new transfer students. The average gpa for the returning students is 3.04. The average parental income is $21,273 and the recipients come from 55 different counties in the state.   The identified need is also addressed through student loans.  Over the three year period covering 2006 to 2009, both the average annual amount borrowed per student and the total amount borrowed rose from $10,067 to $11,451 and $29.2 million to 36.2 million respectively. The corresponding percentage increases were 14 and 24 respectively. For graduate students, these figures were from $13,500 to $16,723 and $10.8 million to 16.9 million or percentage increases of 24% for undergraduates and 56% for graduates.

In summary, the global economic downspin of the recent 4 years has had untold financial effects on our students as manifested by the dramatic increases in both the number of applications, number with demonstrated need and number submitting appeals for special consideration. The reported statistics showed 23% increase in costs to undergraduate Georgia residents and a corresponding 21% for non Georgia residents. The G. Wayne Clough Promise program and student loans are standout and popular approaches to respond to these financial pressures on our students.

 

 

 

V.                  Minutes of SAFAC Meeting of February 25, 2010

Location: The POOLE Board Room  located in the MAIN Building of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering,  755 Ferst Drive, CAMPUS. 

Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR, Paul Senft (Registrar representing Reta Pikowsky), Rob Parrish (Student Government Association), Christophe Ippolito (Modern Languages), Baruch Fei genbaum (Graduate Student Association)

Special Guest/Speaker: John Stein (Dean of Students)

Following the illuminating presentation from the January meeting on financial issues confronting the students and a primarily paintbrush on the statistical aspects of the student financial issues as gathered from the office of Scholarships and Financial Aid  , the Committee decided to delve deeper into the financial pressures experienced by the students.  It was felt that the Office of the Dean of Students could offer a perspective not necessarily shared with other entities within Georgia Tech.  Mr. John Stein, the Dean of Students accepted the invitation of the SAFAC Chair to share with the Committee his experiences with emphasis on the human aspects.

Jon Stein began with an overall picture of the financial problems faced by students in the nation’s universities, the University System of Georgia and then Georgia Tech.  He said that approximately 80% of our students receive some form of financial aid.  There is an attempt to differentiate between those that “need” financial aid from those that “want” financial aid. It is not always easy to do so. The State and Georgia Tech struggles to meet the financial needs of the student but is by and large doing a fair job of this challenge.  He shed further light on the G. Wayne Clough Promise program which is on its 3rd year of operation and which he described as a creative way of addressing the financial aid angle of the equation. He likened it to the ACCESS program and said that there exist other approaches in other states. The largest single provider of funds is the Federal Government followed by the Hope scholarships. As an indication of the acute shortage and the intensity of the demand picture, he stated that for the Fall 2010 semester, there were about 15,000 applications for the 2,400 available slots.

The retention issues for specialized programs such as the HOPE scholarships were discussed.   Over time, 50% of the University System lose their HOPE scholarships.  The following factors have been exacerbated by the recent financial crisis in the nation and state: flat rate tuition, tuition increases, textbook increases, family crises and problems, students having to work 40 hour week plus school, time management issues, more pressure to graduate in four years, pressure to hold onto HOPE, etc.  The associated effects of this plethora of financial aid problems on academic retention were also discussed.  It appears that the desperation to succeed and maintain scholarships such as the HOPE scholarships has created considerable pressure on students with resultant increase in integrity issues.

 

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VI.                Minutes of SAFAC Meeting of March 18, 2010

Location: The POOLE Board Room  located in the MAIN Building of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering,  755 Ferst Drive, CAMPUS. 

Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR, Paul Seft (Registrar representing Reta Pikowsky), Robert McEntyre (Student Government), Christophe Ippolito (Modern Languages)

The meeting started at 3:05pm. The Committee used this meeting to synthesize the information gathered from the interactions with the last two meeting presenters, namely from the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid and the Office of the Dean of Students.  Certain concerns were expressed relative to the state of financial affairs.  There appeared to be considerable uncertainty about financial aid. This creates attendant anxieties on the part of the students.  For example, it was expressed that the students need to know exactly the real state of affairs with HOPE scholarships etc.  It also appeared that very few students knew about the existence and state of affairs with respect to other scholarships and/or loans. The example of RISE was cited. The Committee felt that the dilemma could be abated with proper communication to the students about the future state of financial aid. The Committee pondered the effect of the financial pressures on grades as well as the tension between grades and learning at the Institute.

The Committee also approved some excuse absence requests from the Office of the Registrar.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:55pm

 

VII.              Minutes of SAFAC Meeting of April 22, 2010

Location:  The POOLE Board Room  located in the MAIN Building of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering,  755 Ferst Drive, CAMPUS. 

Attendance: Augustine O. Esogbue (ISYE) CHAIR, Paul Senft (Registrar representing Reta Pikowsky), Craig Tovey (ISYE), Mo Li (MSE)

The meeting was called to order at 3:05pm. The paucity of attendance was expressed to be correlated with events surrounding end of the semester with finals and project work deliverables due.  This was particularly exerting on the student members some of whom were making graduation plans.

The Committee used the occasion to (i) synthesize the presentations of the Director of financial aid and scholarships and the Dean of Students  to examine resultant effects on student life and especially the academic experience (ii) review  the process of handling the excused absence requests as well as the new emerging problem of students not picking up their requested and approved permits in a timely manner and in many cases not picking them up at all, (iii) explore new and future topics that need to be addressed in future meetings.   No meetings were planned for May.

The meeting ended at 4:00pm

 

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