Financial Aid Fiasco

Students struggle with extra steps to receive funds

Ashley Murphy, Staff Writer

According to Wayne State College’s Financial Aid webpage, when applying for financial aid, there are four easy steps to follow: complete the FAFSA, verification and corrections, award notification and the acceptance or declination of awards.

For many applying for financial aid for the fall 2015 semester, these four “easy” steps became steep and exhausting very quickly.

Many students were faced with extra paperwork, long phone calls with the financial aid office and dread that they may not be able to attend college because of their lack of aid.

Katy Yunker, a fourth-year senior in pursuit of a double major, described the situation. “The process itself has become problematic,” Yunker said.

Yunker is an example of a college student who had to file extra paperwork and felt an undesirable amount of stress leading up to the school year as a result. She feels as though this process could be simplified by an open flow of communication between the financial aid office and WSC students.

The process of applying for financial aid is never necessarily fun, but this year was the epitome of every college student’s worst nightmare. Freshmen to juniors to third-year seniors were faced with issues that were unique from person to person.

As always, there are two sides to a story. While there were students who faced quite problematic factors, there were also many students who faced issues which, according to the financial aid office, could have been easily avoided.

Financial Aid Director Annette Kaus offered insight regarding what the financial aid office is doing to help students out and how financial aid problems can be avoided in the future.

Any student that has ever stepped foot in the financial aid office at this time of year knows that the ladies working behind the desks are very busy. They are on the phones, checking emails and meeting with individuals— all to help students receive their financial aid. They are there to ensure all students are given their fair shot at a college education.

In Kaus’ office, numerous piles of folders are stacked across her desk. Those files belonged to students who were having trouble with financial aid in ways that were not as easily avoided as others.

Kaus explained that, while there are students who have troubles that were unavoidable, many students would have received their financial aid much sooner by simply applying for it earlier.

The closer to the school year a student applies for financial aid, the longer it will take to be processed. During the beginning of the semester, there tends to be a number of students that have yet to receive their financial aid by the date that payments are due. Obviously, this leads to chaos.

Another factor playing into the delay is the answers students give while answering their FAFSAs. There are many times when students do not know how to answer a question so they just guess as best as they can, which, according to Kaus, leads to extra documentation and extra steps in the process.

Kaus wants all students on campus to know that the financial aid office is put in place for this very purpose. If students do not know how to answer a question regarding their financial aid, they are strongly encouraged to contact the financial aid office for assistance.

Based on that information, Yunker and Kaus are on the same wavelength: communication needs to be improved.

As for everyone who is still waiting for their financial aid, Kaus said, “we are all working really hard to get things done as fast as we can.”

The financial aid office is also hoping to connect with the college media in order to assist students better around the time FAFSAs are to be filed.

They also want to remind students that even though everything seems like it is as simple as a click of a button, the financial aid office must do a lot of processing of information before awards can be handed out, making time an even bigger factor in the entire scheme of things.

Basically, if a student applied for financial aid late, a certain degree of patience needs to reside within the student while waiting to receive his or her awards.

Although you may apply early, be sure to check your Wildcats Online to accept your awards. Without accepting your awards finacial aid can not disperse your financial aid.

The final reminder the financial aid office has for students is that Wildcats Online has been updated to notify students of awards and refund checks. College email accounts also play a large role in communication between the financial aid office and students.

What is important for students campus-wide to remember now is this: be prompt and accurate while applying for financial aid. That way, if problems do arise, they can be caught and dealt with quickly.