Birmingham Business Journal
"Global Financial buys land, plans to employ 350"
Global Financial Aid Services Inc. has purchased five acres and a 35,000-square-foot facility in Birmingham to establish a contact center that will employ up to 350 people within the next few years.
The company recently moved its 50 employees from offices in Century Park South in Hoover to its new office in the Meadow Brook area off U.S. 280.
With headquarters and a contact center in Gulfport, Miss., and a shared data center in Phoenix, the company said it has aggressive plans to expand its clientele further across the country to service out of its Birmingham facility.
The company contracts with schools across the country to provide front- and back-office financial aid administration for campuses and online and contact center services.
What began as a division of a career college in 1996 has become a separate company with 270 total employees and 365 colleges served. In 2006, Global Financial handled $1.5 billion worth of financial aid.
Matthew J. Johnner, vice president of sales and marketing for the company, said the Birmingham office and contact center will handle front-end financial aid administration, helping colleges improve enrollment, response time and efficiency.
The Gulfport office performs the back-office portion, which reviews student documents and federal compliance.
"If you are a big system and have lots of campuses, we provide a shared service center," he said. "We pay for the buildings and centralize, save money and create consistency."
Johnner said some of the current colleges the Birmingham location will serve are Virginia College, Strayer University, University of Mississippi, Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis, Jackson State University and Jones International University.
With state-of-the-art technology, the company is able to respond to inquiries from students and parents regarding financial aid and walk them through the process, all in real time and with rapid response, which makes it more simple and less intimidating, said Johnner.
While the company doesn't lend money or replace college's financial aid offices, Johnner said it does help handle the volume of calls regarding financial aid and keeps the offices in compliance with U.S. Department of Education guidelines.
Marie Ford, vice president of financial planning at Virginia College, said the company has helped the college remain in compliance with federal regulations by reviewing its financial aid documents, resulting in the aid being processed in a timely manner.
"It gives the student the comfort that their account has been taken care of and they don't owe the school a debt from the funding," she said. "With that service, we have met that need for the student."
Ford said also there is a layer of comfort in her department that it is compliant and processed correctly.
Johnner said the company also accommodates short-term contracts with colleges to handle heavier intervals of college admission, such as the fall when school usually begins.
"We are trying to de-mystify the financial aid process," said Johnner. "It keeps a lot of students out. We try to break that down. It's not rocket science, but is not simple."
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