Metropolitan State University of Denver continues to see declines in the number of state and federal financial-aid applications it has received, a result of the bumpy rollout of a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid. 

Kerline Eglaus, Ed.D., executive director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, told members of the President’s Cabinet last week that as of May 14, FAFSA submissions to her office had declined more than 20% compared with this time last year. 

The Financial Aid Office has also seen a 56% decrease in Colorado Applications for State Financial Aid. CASFA is a state financial-aid program for eligible undocumented students, and the submission timeline is tied to the FAFSA process. 

University administrators across the country are concerned that the FAFSA challenges will affect fall enrollment. However, Eglaus said her office has seen a positive trend as of late: There was an uptick of 13% in FAFSA submissions during April, thanks to the communication efforts of the Financial Aid Office. 

Kerline Eglaus

“We mailed out letters and (sent) emails and texts in April, and the call center is definitely feeling it,” she said. “Were seeing an increased wait time because we mailed out letters and will continue to send letters, emails and textmessage campaigns to let students know to start completing that information.” 

Additionally, Eglaus said that following community input, Financial Aid has adjusted its target deadline for students to complete their FAFSA and CASFA applications to July 1. She said the office aims to begin awarding financial-aid packages to students as early as this week. 

“This target-deadline adjustment will give our FAFSA/CASFA students an opportunity to work through the information that they’re having challenges with,” Eglaus said. “We’ll continue to monitor the challenges that we are experiencing and will continue to be flexible.” 


Comment on remote-operations guidelines 

Andrea Smith, associate vice president of Strategic Communications, requested feedback on a section of the University Closure policy, which went into effect last June.  

Section IV of the policy allows for the president and chief executive to transition the University to remote operations “when conditions or other interruptions compromise the safety or productivity of its students, faculty and staff or the efficiency of University operations.” It further says “employees should refer to their departmental guidelines” to determine work plans. 

Larry Sampler, vice president of Administration and chief operating officer, added that the guidelines are critical because they will determine the University’s ability to completely close or operate under remote conditions. 

“This set of guidelines is how we can begin to understand what President (Janine) Davidson will ask of us should the decision be made in consultation with senior leaders that instead of closing for a day, we will be going remote,” Sampler said. “It’s important that we put some attention to these guidelines because to do that successfully, it typically (requires) a little bit of preparation.” 

Employees who would like to provide feedback on guidelines are encouraged to contact Leone Dick, chief of staff to the vice president. 

Additionally, members of the President’s Cabinet voted to pass the Shared Governance Council Committee and Complaints by Administrators and Staff policies. The policies are now headed to the president’s desk. 

Davidson addressed the recent demonstration on the Tivoli Quad and stressed the importance of balancing the right to free speech with the health and safety of the University’s employees and students. Demonstrators abandoned the camp this past weekend, and crews have spent the week cleaning and repairing the quad and other areas of campus. 

Additional updates

  • Davidson introduced this month’s Roadrunner Shoutout winners, which included a Political Science professor, a student-success coach and a student employee at the Writing Center. 
  • Director of Strategy Meredith Jeffers, Ph.D., told the Cabinet that the University remains on track in almost all areas of the operationalization of the 2030 Strategic Plan. 
  • Vice President of Student Affairs Will Simpkins, Ed.D., shared that his office has created seven working groups to determine different barriers to student success and is working on proposing policy changes that will help enroll and retain students. 
  • Davidson commented on the successful 2024 legislative session and commended Kaycee Gerhart, vice president of Government and External Affairs, for her efforts in advocating for $132 million in funding for higher education in the state. 

Up next 

The President’s Cabinet meetings will conclude for the summer and begin the 2024-25 academic year schedule on Aug. 22 at 11 a.m.