UA students still having problems receiving financial aid
Tuesday August 21, 2001 |
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Delays on grant and scholarship money a common occurrence
Students who applied for financial aid more than a month ago and have not yet received their disbursement checks are urged to "check it out" with the Office of Financial Aid.
John Nametz, Director of Need-Based Aid for the University of Arizona Financial Aid department, said almost all checks have been sent out, but some students are still waiting.
Typically, a student will have his or her check held by the university because he or she is not yet registered for the required minimum of 12 credit hours or because a bar has been placed on his or her UA financial account.
Another reason a check may be held is if the student in question cannot prove that he or she completed all requirements for any summer school classes taken. This includes missing grades and any outstanding charges on a student's account. Until the situation is remedied, the Financial Aid office will not disburse the student's check.
Delays on grant and scholarship money are also common. Sarah Burns, a Speech and Hearing Sciences senior, did not receive her scholarship money until yesterday, and not without some inconvenience.
Burns spent yesterday morning standing in lines at the Administration building.
"I stood there forever," said Burns.
A recipient of both the Provost's Scholarship and the Van de Verde Undergraduate Scholarship for Research, Burns expected her money weeks ago.
"I hadn't planned on not having my money at this point," Burns said.
Burns contacted Financial Aid, and was referred to the bursar's office because of unpaid summer school fees.
The problem was, Burns said, "I didn't even go to summer school."
Eventually, Burns got the situation straightened out, but she refused to leave the Administration building without a check in her hand.
"I said, 'No, you're not going to mail it to me, I need it now,'" she said. She added she first plans to buy textbooks with the money.
Still other students have had problems receiving financial aid for failing to complete the Office of Financial Aid's requirement that all first-time borrowers must complete a loan counseling session. This session is not required for students receiving grants and/or scholarships.
However, those taking out loans for the first time are required to attend an in-person counseling session conducted by the Financial Aid office or watch a video that is shown regularly in the Financial Aid office.
The loan counseling session may also be completed on the Office of Financial Aid Web site. In fact, the online option is quite popular.
"About 50 percent of new students do it on the web," Nametz said.
If a student fails to complete the loan counseling session, his or her disbursement check can be held until the student fulfills the requirement.
In order to assist students financially while their checks are being held, the Office of Financial Aid is authorized to give students short-term cash loans.
"We loan students up to $500 at a time," said Nametz. "Many of them just need a little help getting started."
The loan is automatically charged to student's accounts.
Students who owe tuition at the time they accept the short-term loan do not receive cash, but instead have the amount of their short-term loan deducted from the total owed for tuition. Once a student's financial aid check is ready for disbursement, the amount of the short-term loan is automatically deducted from the total of the check.
The loans are funded by several sources, including the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, student-generated funds and donations from alumni, students and other outside sources.
Students who need to see a Financial Aid representative can expect long lines and busy phones for the next few days. If possible, Nametz suggests waiting until Thursday or Friday to visit the Administration building.
"By late this week, lines should let up," Nametz said.
To contact the Office of Financial Aid, call 621-1858 or visit the Web site at http://w3.arizona.edu/~finaid.