Today: Jul 23, 2024

Financial Aid office fined

Eliezer Santiago | Photography Editor Mike Everson getting help from Nellie Urnett for financial aid papers.

Ivylee Rosario – News Reporter

Eliezer Santiago | Photography Editor
Mike Everson, junior engineering major waiting at the Financial Aid office.

To Christine Moylan, 21, having financial aid means the ability to afford school, she said, but students who don’t even want to show up to class are a waste of time.

Southern was chosen for a federal government program review in which the university was monitored on the difference between students receiving financial aid and the students who attended all their classes.

Professors express their concerns with having students registered for a specific class but never actually attending.

“We understand how some students can miss if an emergency presents itself,” said Christopher Balsley, a geology professor at Southern. “I just don’t understand why not come when you or your parents are paying money for that class.”

The fine started at an amount of $2.5 million and has now been reduced to $1.6 million. The financial aid department is still working on a report to try and save the university more money by lowering the fine.

The federal government program review chose Southern at random to view if the financial aid was being used correctly, unfortunately that was not the case.

“We have students who register for a class but no longer show up. If a student decides to drop or withdrawal from a class,” said Gloria Lee, director of Financial Aid, “they need to come see us immediately so we can adjust their financial aid package so we are only paying for the classes they are actually attending.”

Due to the problems arising from the misuse of financial aid, the university has started sending out emails to all students and faculty explaining what steps to follow if a student decides to drop a class.

Eliezer Santiago | Photography Editor
Mike Everson getting help from Nellie Urnett for financial aid papers.

If financial aid continues paying for classes a student is no longer taking, that individual student will receive a refund they are not entitled to.

“We are now required to take attendance for each of our classes, and send the list of students who constantly don’t show up to the financial aid office,” said Balsley. “I had a students once for two semesters that never showed up.”

Professors are now required to report on any students that have missed several classes that are unexcused. Starting the 2012-2013 academic year, the financial aid department is trying to catch students who are misusing their financial aid.

Professors send the list to the department and then they adjust those students financial aid package to only pay for the classes they are attending. The money that the student would originally receive as a refund is then returned to the federal government. It is then the responsibility of the student to pay the university back out of their pocket.

“I find it crazy that students are wasting this money that they are being given to go to school. All we have to do is show up, sit there and pay attention,” said Moylan. “You are just creating a problem for yourself if the school needs to track you down just because you aren’t showing up to class.”

By missing class, the student will not only jeopardize the amount of financial aid help they are receiving, but also their overall grade if the class is not dropped correctly.

“Class is like having a job,” said Balsley. “If you don’t show up, there will be consequences.”

The final fine amount is still under review between the financial aid department and federal government review.

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