How long should I wait before calling my school financial advisor back?
June 3, 2014 6:39 PM   Subscribe

This is sort of an etiquette question. A scholarship that I'm receiving is requesting the school's bank account information. I have been trying to reach my financial aid advisor for the past 4 days. I emailed her 4 days ago and did not get a reply. Thus, I called her office several times yesterday and today and no one answered. I left her a voicemail message asking her to call me back and she still hasn't called. Today, I showed up at her office and I was told that she was out for lunch. I couldn't wait so I left a note at her desk to call me back. She never did. Should I continue to pester this lady until she responds? It's very frustrating that I haven't been able to get a hold of her but at the same time I don't want to be a bother or seem impatient if she's indeed really busy. Please advise. Thank you!
posted by missybitsy to Education (15 answers total)
Is she the only person with your school's bank account info? Can you call the main office and ask a receptionist? This seems like non-specific information that would be held by more than one person.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 6:41 PM on June 3, 2014

This is a question that anyone in your school's student financial services organization should be able to answer. Ask whoever answers the phone for the answer.
posted by grouse at 6:42 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yes, pester anyone who can help until you get the answer. This is their job regardless of how good at it they are.
posted by quince at 6:46 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

So today is Tuesday. Four days ago was . . . Friday? And you called them several times on the Monday after the weekend? You already seem impatient, andyoushould give her more time. Especially if you're talking about a scholarship for next year, there is still plentyof time.
posted by Think_Long at 7:10 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

You would like this scholarship? Yes? Then you need to bug people to get you the bank information. It can be this woman or her delegate. Busy people are used to reading email and delegating to the person who can handle it. Are you being specific about what you need? Because a "Call me" isn't something she can easily delegate. If you say, "I need the bank routing information please have someone email it to me," then you'll probably get an answer.

Ask the department secretary how to reach this woman. If the department secretary can't help you park yourself outside your advisor's office.
posted by 26.2 at 7:10 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Call once a day each morning at 10am-ish, documenting each time. See if somebody else in the department can help you.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:38 PM on June 3, 2014

More, ask the person at the reception desk (even if they are a student worker) if they can request the info from the woman and send it to you. Anyone should be able to send this information - I don't think it's super-sensitive, or at least it isn't where I work.

I'd say that this is the kind of thing where it's normal to get back to a student pretty quick if you are in the office, since it's pretty basic information and not the kind of thing you'd have to request specially. I personally try to respond to students within a couple of hours when possible.
posted by Frowner at 7:39 PM on June 3, 2014

hey don't feel bad. keep calling and emailing :)
posted by TRUELOTUS at 8:06 PM on June 3, 2014

Or, is there someone above her? Maybe even cc' them, that will wake her up. Bottom line, worse case you get your money and you piss her off. well, you got you money, right?! Does it really matter if she was annoyed? She is annoying you!!
posted by TRUELOTUS at 8:08 PM on June 3, 2014

I have spent a decade of my career in higher education and for the last three years of that work I shared office space with the financial aid people. So I am entirely sympathetic to their workloads and have watched their workings.

I'd call every hour on the hour. Maybe only leave voicemail every other time.

Financial aid exists to help you get the funds necessary to attend. In this case they're not even connecting you with a scholarship or filling out paperwork - you just want them to hand over basic demographic information so you can get money. Money which you will essentially turn over to the institution, and which is part of how their salaries are paid.

You should make your contact short and sweet: "This is missybitsy again; I am unable to move forward with this scholarship without the proper bank information. You or an aid can reach me at 555-1212 or email it to xyz@wtf.answeryourmail."

Financial aid is always overloaded and busy, particularly if they're in a crunch time helping students or providing the bi-annual data to the feds. Doesn't matter - your request is a tiny thing that's easy to cross off their list. If they lack the self-respect to want to get that done then let them get the satisfaction of getting you out of their hair - make it easier to just deal with you so you'll go away.

Honestly, it's kind of amazing this isn't something on a pile of handouts they can just hand to office aids to call you back with.
posted by phearlez at 8:17 PM on June 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thus, I called her office several times yesterday and today and no one answered. I left her a voicemail message asking her to call me back and she still hasn't called.

This is irritating. Don't do it. Call once and, if there is no answer, leave a voicemail. Nowadays almost all office phones show your missed calls, and seeing multiple calls and a single voicemail from one person makes that person seem...annoying (and weird).

That said, though, I think you're well within your rights to nag this clearly incompetent woman - just go about it a bit differently. Email is best for this in my opinion because you can show a trail of "checking in" emails. I'd send one email per day until this is resolved and call once every 2-3 days. The reason I don't suggest the nuclear options above, such as calling hourly, is that unfortunately if this woman is your designated FA advisor you'll have to work with her in the future. You don't want to completely destroy your relationship with her because, at least in my experience, these folks can make life very hard for you.

I don't want to be a bother or seem impatient if she's indeed really busy.

People are always telling me that they're "really busy." And hey, maybe they are. But you're asking her to do something that will take approximately 2 minutes of her time, and absolutely no one is too fucking busy for that. Keep nagging; I assure you she is just incompetent.

All that said, it seems very likely - almost certain - that someone else in the FA office could help you with this question. I recommend calling around and politely asking other staff members to see if they could assist.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:45 AM on June 4, 2014

If the funding is coming from outside the university speak to your department head. They are motivated to bring that money into the university as it will reflect positively on the department's balance sheet/academic performance. Department heads also have the clout to light a fire under the people in the finance departments.
posted by srboisvert at 7:03 AM on June 4, 2014

I would zero out of voicemail and ask whoever answers your question. You don't need your specific Financial Aid person to tell you this info, anyone who has it can do that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:33 AM on June 4, 2014

I would zero out of voicemail and ask whoever answers your question. You don't need your specific Financial Aid person to tell you this info, anyone who has it can do that.

and anyone, ANYONE you speak to rather than voicemail? You say "when can I expect a call back?" If they dodge a firm answer you say "I cannot receive this scholarship without this information, I need a firm time. Will XYZ be able to get this information by 4pm today?" and PUSH. There is no reason someone can't tell you when someone will handle an issue. They can't speak for that person? "So this person PDQ who had the information - they're in the office today? So they should be able to find this in under an hour, yes?"

It is absolute nonsense that you have to do this, but sometimes if you're dealing with a dysfunctional operation you simply have to be the person who is most annoying so they can go back to being crappy.
posted by phearlez at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2014

It's not clear in your question, so I'll clarify: did you just ask to speak to her and ask her to call you back? That's pretty vague. If you need something specific, ask for exactly that: I need the bank routing number and account number so the scholarship can be set up. I need it by X date or the scholarship will be in jeopardy.

If she knows exactly what you need, she can reply in various ways to get you that information. If she only knows that you want to talk, she may think she needs to block off some time and make herself available and she's busy and that's too hard and....
posted by CathyG at 4:27 PM on June 6, 2014

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