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Friday September 1, 2000

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UA students affected by Stafford Loan changes

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Creative writing senior Angela Boyle waits in line for her missing financial aid check in the Administration building yesterday. "I really don't know what to expect. I usually receive it before school starts," said Boyle about waiting in line, "but rent's due soon."

By Ayse Guner

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Some UA students did not receive their financial aid on time, partly because the Department of Education changed the application system for the Federal Stafford Loan in order to improve the financial aid system.

The new process to receive a Stafford Loan now includes an online system, where students - after receiving their financial award letter - are required to select their loan amount by a click of a button, said John Nametz, UA student financial aid director.

The next step is to sign a one-time promissory note for the academic career at the University of Arizona, and lenders automatically send the loan to the students' bursar accounts.

Some students, who did not receive their financial aid days after school started, were hit by the new system.

About 25,900 students received aid this year, but 20 percent fewer students received Stafford Loans, Nametz said.

The total amount of the short loans that are given out this semester is $2.2 million, which is 6.8 percent higher than last year, Nametz said. This might be a factor of the new online system, he added.

Short-term loans are also available for the students through the university, and students who haven't yet received their aid can receive a short-term loan in 24 hours.

Erin Ryan, a physics and astronomy junior, said she did not know about the new online system until she came back to Tucson on Aug. 18. She received her financial aid one week after school started.

"It was pretty stressful to find a place to live, and I couldn't concentrate on my classes," Ryan said.

Nametz said students who had problems receiving their financial aid might have either misunderstood the system change or thought the old process was still in effect.

"It is the first year, everybody is hit because it is brand new," he said.

The UA Financial Aid Department sent out the award letters that included online loan instructions, but some students did not act on it, he said. For those students, the university sent out reminder postcards in late July.

"We are human," Nametz said. "Nothing ever works perfectly for everybody."

Schuyler Heimlich, a business management junior, said although he applied for financial aid in March, he did not know about the online system until he called the university to check his financial status three weeks before school started.

He received his financial award letter in July, but the online instructions did not grab his attention, he said.

"It (online system) is more inconvenient now, but it will be more convenient in the future," he said.

Heimlich said he received his financial aid yesterday.

"It feels great, I can buy my books now," he said.

One of the advantages of the online system is if students need an extra loan during the semester, they can get it "with a click of a button," Nametz said.

The previous system, however, required a longer process - students were required to receive a financial award letter, sign a promissory note and choose a lender.

"I am proudest of the system more than anything we have done in 12 years," Nametz said.

About 80 percent of UA students used the online system.

"We are one of the very few to operate with the online system," he said.

Nametz said the 20 percent decrease of Stafford loans might also be positive because that means students won't have to repay as much debt.

Students can check out the financial aid Web address for further information. The Web site address is

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