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LaGuardia College opens doors to $7.3M student services center

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The new Enrollment Services Center in the college's Center III building at 29-10 Thomson Ave. will let the school better serve its some 13,000 students by streamlining four administrative branches: testing, registration, financial services and academic advisement, said college President Gail O. Mellow.Before the new center opened June 1, the offices were in three different buildings. Now students can file into the air-conditioned, 22,000-square-foot center with all their enrollment concerns, said City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside), who helped obtain the $7.3 million in city capital that funded the project."When you cut that ribbon, what we're doing - we're actually cutting red tape," Gioia said. "Everything you need (is) at one precious place."On Monday - three weeks before the next session of classes begins on June 27 - dozens of students scrambled to get their financial aid and tuition payments in order. Staff members cross-trained in the different services took questions at three help desks. Students looked up their enrollment information on a row of computers. Others reclined on dozens of cushioned chairs waiting for their names to be called.Sheniqua Grant, 20, of Laurelton, who had problems with her financial aid, said the new facility will take some getting used to."It's unorganized," she said. "I liked the old way, but the office is pretty."Erika Jonson, 25, of Flushing, agreed. She said she waited for 20 minutes for financial aid help - longer than she ever had to wait before."The chairs are comfy, but you don't want to be sitting here forever," she said.The center represents the first phase of a long-term renovation of the nine-story Center III building, the former Sunshine Biscuit Factory. Mellow said City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) obtained much of the funds that will make the face-lift possible.Miller said LaGuardia represents the best of New York City, with immigrants accounting for 67 percent of its student population."This is what New York is all about," Miller said. "It's a city that says if you believe in yourself, we believe in you. (LaGuardia) takes those dreams and makes them real."Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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