The start of a new school year usually signals the endless line outside the financial aid office for students and parents trying to make sure class fees are covered and any extra funds are properly allocated. on their accounts.
This year that line ran a bit longer than expected. As the sixth week of the semester dawns, many students are still waiting for financial aid and are struggling to support themselves.
Some students without financial assistance were unable to pay for books, access codes, laboratory equipment and other school supplies. This, of course, largely affects older people who are left behind in the courses they need to graduate in the coming months.
Senior graduate, Alexus Darisaw, says taking courses without the proper financial means has been “very difficult”.
“I’m taking 21 credit hours to be able to graduate this semester and all of my classes require books, some requiring two or three,” Darisaw said.
The health sciences major also said that while some of her teachers gave her more time to get the supplies she needed, others weren’t so understanding, leaving her to turn to her fellow students. class for the material she needed.
“It’s difficult because some of my classes are online only, so I miss a lot of Cengage homework, which is basically my grade for the online classes,” Darisaw said.
Other students struggled with much more serious financial constraints, being unable to pay bills and even rent due to lack of funds. For those students whose parents cannot or cannot support them financially, the burden increases even more.
Jena Tavares, a pre-med biology student at Florida A&M University, said she recently had to take charge of her own life.
“I recently started working to help me pay for things until I could get my financial aid,” Tavares said. “It’s been tough, but I just have to make some sacrifices to make sure I can afford the things I need.”
Many students, tired of the annual struggles with the Financial Aid Office, believe the problems within that office run deeper than the surface.
Students created an online petition calling for the effectiveness of the financial aid office and strongly criticizing staff members’ communication and customer service.
The anonymous creator of the petition notes, “Every year there is a problem with the financial aid process. The staff are unprofessional, to say the least. Their communication skills this year are at an all-time low. We are almost a month at school and a majority of students have not received anything.
Several students noted communication problems, saying that many financial aid representatives provide different answers about their money. Darisaw said during her “twice a week” visits to the financial aid office, she received confused and conflicting explanations.
“I’ve received so many responses and it’s like they’re just telling students information they’re not sure about just to hang them up on the phone or in the office,” Darisaw said. “[On one visit] the person I spoke to told me they didn’t know why I hadn’t received my refund. He asked another lady for help and it turned out he was doing something wrong.
The petition, which has nearly 400 signatures after two weeks, has many supporters demanding a complete overhaul of the department from the bottom up.
A parent shared his five-year struggle with his son with the financial aid office, commenting, “REPLACE STAFF OR HOLD THEM RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DELAY.”
The Financial Aid Office did not respond to repeated attempts to comment. The Communications Office said it would seek financial assistance, but it also did not comment.
If students are having difficulty receiving financial aid, they should ensure that all actions are in the “View Fin.” The Aid 2021_2022 Beyond portal on iRattler are completed and read “Done”.
Students should also visit student accounts to ensure that there is no hold on their account that would prevent financial aid processing.
If further help is needed in resolving financial issues, contact the AFAM Financial Aid Office. The financial aid office and student accounts are located in the Center for Student Access and Success.