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After a year without a permanent director of financial aid, the University hired Nicholas Novello for the position, and he started the job Jan. 16.
Novello previously worked as the associate director of financial aid at Cal Poly Pomona and Cal State Dominguez Hills, and as a loan services supervisor for the UCLA.
“I’ve worked for the state of California’s public institutions, both the UCs and the CSUs, for almost 13 years at this point,” Novello said.
“I went to Champlain College at Burlington, Vermont, and it’s a very similar school to the University of La Verne. It was just a very natural fit, it felt like coming home,” he said.
Karen Lange, associate director of compliance in the financial aid department, served as interim director of financial aid before Novello’s arrival.
The office of financial aid had vacancies during her term as interim director, and last semester some students received financial aid packages later than they had expected.
“It was a combination of factors, one being a transition with the office and being without a permanent director,” Novello said.
“The other piece is the overall communication with students who have more complicated financial situations,” he said.
Juan Regalado, associate dean of students, said that part of the difficulties experienced in the financial aid department is due to the need to abide by both federal and state regulations.
“Sometimes the perception is, not just here in La Verne, but everywhere, is that financial aid is not as welcoming,” Regalado said.
“That’s actually across most colleges. Ninety percent of the experience in how people think of financial aid is that it’s just […] very complicated and cumbersome and overwhelming. It can feel like this black box that is really hard to understand,” he said.
Novello said that students often see the office as a hurdle, a notion that he wants to dispel.
Novello worked at Cal State Dominguez Hills, with undergraduate enrollment of 12,632, and at UCLA, with undergrad enrollment of 30,680 in fall 2016.
In comparison, ULV has a total undergraduate enrollment of 2,809.
Todd Eckel, interim associate dean of admissions, said that, due to working on a smaller campus, Novello will be working with less regimented departments that communicate with each other on a more regular basis.
“Ninety six percent of all our freshman students rely on some type of aid, whether that’s merit aid or financial aid, per year,” Eckel said.
Chris Krich, head football coach, said Novello would also be working more closely with students.
“He has the ability to help more here,” Krich said. “When it comes to students who are maybe looking at leaving because of cost, or along those lines, he’s going to be able to have more of a personal connection or personal tie.”
Devorah Lieberman, president of the University, said that, in the few weeks that Novello has been part of the University of La Verne community, he had resolved long standing issues within the financial aid department.
“The financial aid packages that he sent out have been sent earlier than they ever have before,” Lieberman said.
Aryn Plax can be reached at email@example.com.