Move in delayed by financial aid issues
Jackson LaMar — News Reporter
For most students, financial aid is the determining factor in whether or not they can attend college. However, for students such as art education major, Ewa Urbanowicz, a freshman, the university’s financial aid struggles over the summer prevented her from living on campus.
“I got the email saying that I was ineligible to move in two days before the move-in day,” Urbanowicz said. “Luckily I had somewhere to stay, but think about the students who live out of state.”
The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, located in the Wintergreen building, is responsible for awarding students their financial aid packages. When asked about the situation, Associate Director, Wanda Cotto, explained their reasoning.
“This summer was unusual- unlike any other summer. We were busier than normal but we were also short staff[ed],” Cotto said. “While that was no fault to the student, we did the best that we could, here in the office, with the staff we had. So everything was delayed this summer.”
Due to the fact that the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships failed to award a number of students their financial aid package on time, numerous students were not cleared to move into their dorms. Without their financial aid packages, students were not able to pay their tuition for the semester, and they were considered ‘noncompliant.’
Although students were encouraged by faculty to go to the Financial Aid Office students to address their concerns, in order to do so, according to Urbanowicz, she was required to pay $5,000 on the spot.
“If I wanted to move in that day, I would have to pay $5,000 out of pocket,” said Urbanowicz.
The issue was out of hand for the office, and even with temporary help, work could not be done in time.
“In the interim, we were able to bring in some assistance to help. It just wasn’t in time to get everyone in, in time,” Cotto said.
Due to this incident occurring over the summer, the financial aid office is working towards making sure the delay will not happen again.
“We are actually transitioning at the moment,” said Cotto. “We have a new director that started in August and we do hope to be able to hire some new people.
The summer brought unusual circumstances to the office, but with the new director, this issue will hopefully be resolved and will not happen again, according to Cotto.
The financial aid office worked closely with The Student Accounts Office this summer in order to extend the due dates for students to pay their bills, while also holding some classes as well. “While we know that [ the financial aid applications were] applied on time and were awarded late, we came together as a university and tried the best we could give the circumstances that we had,” said Cotto.
The financial aid office also worked with the Office of Financial Literacy. Student financial literacy and advising coordinator, Lewis DeLuca, expressed the importance of working with the Financial aid office.
“I need to know what financial aid is doing in order to do my job well when sitting one-on-one with a student” DeLuca said.
This situation displaced many students and caused plenty of inconveniences for families. This is a type of unforeseeable situation where one hopes it will never happen again, but if it does, it will, like it did this fall, make for a huge issue.
Photo Credit: Jackson LaMar