Financial aid director plans changes

By Dustin Porter
Around the Campus Editor

Photo by Gabrielle Lover
Financial aid director Janelle Handcox helps students in the financial aid office.

FWhen Jenelle Handcox departed from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga., she did not know what awaited her in North Carolina. 

After all, Handcox had been the financial aid director of ABAC for 12 years and had earned a bachelor's in Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a master's in Public Administration from Valdosta State University. 

Handcox was born and raised in Georgia and North Carolina is a completely new environment for her. 

Handcox said that Georgia operated on merit-based financial aid meaning that students leaving high school with the best grades received the most financial aid. 

On the other hand, North Carolina operates on a need- based financial aid program meaning that the poorer the student the more aid they received. 

"I am adjusting well," Handcox said, "I am very excited to be here and look forward to working with the students." 

The financial aid office at UNCP has had a lot of turnover this year, including former director Bruce Blackmon's departure. 

Handcox has already started to update policies and one of her first deeds as director was to do away with walk-in appointments to see her. 

"You have to make an appointment to see me in particular, but students can still see their financial aid counselors at any time," Handcox said. 

Students are assigned a financial aid counselor alphabetically according to the first letter of their last name, Handcox said. 

She added that appointments are necessary because she is constantly in meetings, and if a student schedules an appointment they will get the "time and attention they deserve." 

Handcox said that she has big goals for the financial aid program, but in order to meet those goals students have to understand and interpret the current Standards of Academic Progress. 

The current Standards of Academic Progress require that students must maintain a 2.0 GPA to remain eligible for financial aid and complete at least 67 percent of their classes. 

Handcox added that it is better for a student to finish a class than to withdraw because a "W" is the same as an "F" to the financial aid office. 

"I advise students to always try to finish a course because a "W" will not save you from losing aid," Handcox said. 

Handcox said that she plans to implement a deadline for students to complete all of their financial aid paperwork to help work flow in the office. 

She added that if students failed to meet the deadline they would lose financial aid for the upcoming academic year. 

Handcox said that one of her major goals is to get Braveweb directly linked to the financial aid office to eliminate excessive paper work and make thing simpler for the counselors and the students. 

"My plan is to have a student's information on Braveweb so if a problem occurs they can call in and the counselor can pull up their information and solve the issue promptly," Handcox said. 

She added that the new process will eliminate a student from having to come in as much and aid the counselors in searching for files because they will now be able to log on Braveweb and locate all of the students' information opposed to digging through filing cabinets. 

Life away from work
When Handcox is not working hard helping students with their financial aid issues, she is either shopping or cheering for the Georgia Bulldogs. 

"I can't sing or dance, but I love to shop," Handcox said. "I also love college football and the Georgia Bulldogs." 

She added that her favorite activity is interacting with the students, and she meets with an SGA representative once a week to discuss financial aid issues and "get the word out." 

"I came to Pembroke on a Saturday during New Student Orientation and all of the new students and their parents excitedly shopping for t-shirts and books made me proud to be a part of this atmosphere," Handcox said.