ScholarNet President Mike Mutziger reflects on your heroic efforts, his team’s response, and taking the time to plan during 2020.
As I try to write my thoughts on the past year, I keep coming back to, “Where do I start?” Do I mention a worldwide pandemic? No, everyone is aware. Do I write about working from home? No, everyone had to do that. Should I bring up how it changed our daily routines and lives? Again, no, everyone has had to adjust and make things work. So, what do I talk about?
First and foremost, I want to talk about you. As a whole, the financial aid profession proved to be some of the most flexible, professional, and patient people on campus. In the face of an unprecedented turn of events, you maintained an impressive level of professionalism and provided stability for students in uncertain times. You processed financial aid. You answered questions you never thought you’d have to answer. You were asked questions you had no idea how to answer. J You processed COVID relief funds and implemented guidelines that were developed and changed on a nearly daily basis. Not only that, but you did it all with dedication and a sense of humor. You also learned how to work from home and social distance in a profession that historically has thrived on in-person interaction.
Truth be told, it’s amazing what financial aid professionals dealt with and overcame in the past year. We here at ScholarNet are proud to partner with so many of you and help in what little ways we can.
I’d also like to talk about my pride in the ScholarNet team for continuing their commitment to excellence in customer service. When schools closed down in March, lots of things changed. It was an unforeseen and unexpected direction taken to try to curb the spread of coronavirus. How did we react? We met schools’ needs in cancelling disbursements, changing disbursement dates, changing loan period dates, and any other adjustments needed to their private loans. We did this to help schools help their borrowers. It’s one piece we could help control to take some of the burden and pressure off the financial aid office.
I can also talk about how quickly we moved our teams to work from home without missing a beat in our customer service levels. Like many of you, our team had to learn how to work differently and without the comforts of the office. If you’ve heard the analogy of a duck on the pond, that was us. Everything calm and collected on top of the water, but paddling like crazy underwater to make sure and meet the service expectations of our school and lender partners. ScholarNet never missed a beat. Of all the things a financial aid office might have to worry about, ScholarNet was not one of them.
We did use 2020 as an opportunity to plan. Plan for what might happen next. Plan for the future. Plan to make sure ScholarNet is positioned to serve your needs. One of the best results of all this planning is that we’ll be introducing a new user experience with ScholarNet – one that remembers with reverence the ScholarNet features you know and love, but improves upon others based on input from many of you. We’re excited for you to experience the ScholarNet refresh – coming this spring – and, hopefully, many more good things to come this year.