Financial Aid and Housing 2016

Financial Aid Office explains delays

Due to problems with a new software system in the Financial Aid Office, students are still waiting to receive their money electronically or are going through the process manually to receive their funds more quickly.

On Tuesday morning, Oct. 4, University Relations released an official notice extending the deadline to pay university charges without a late fee.

The extension is to accommodate students affected by the campus-wide delay in financial aid, according to the official notice by University Relations.

Ben Packer, managing director of Student Services, said the delay happened as a result of errors in a new software to distribute financial aid.

“Just before fall semester started, we had been implementing a new software called Regent,” Packer said. “It’s going to be software that’s really helpful for students and staff, both on the front end for what the students see and at the back end of what our office sees.”

Packer said the new program will make awarding financial aid easier for the university.

“The implementations started some time ago, but we weren’t able to see the errors that it was producing,” Packer said. “By the time we realized the full extent of the problem, it was too late to fix it in time for fall to start.”

Packer said the Financial Aid Office is working hard to fix the system and get students their money as soon as possible.

“We got to a point after school started where we said, ‘We just have to start putting the loans in manually,’” Packer said. “Right now we’re doing about 400 a day.”

Packer said when students bring in their paperwork, their names are added to the list and the Financial Aid Office will send them their loans as quickly as possible.

“The Financial Aid Office is sending the paperwork to the students, the students bring in paperwork that says, ‘This is how much loan I will accept or reject,’ and then the Financial Aid office puts it in by hand, one by one,” Packer said.

Line at the financial aid office. They protested just afterwards, sorry I didn't get photos. (Scroll Archive)

Line at the financial aid office | Scroll Archive

Packer said the university has developed a plan to give temporary aid to help students with immediate need.

“What we did as an institution is we worked on saying, ‘OK, we have to focus on students who need money or who have an emergency,’” Packer said. “The university has been good enough to give students short-term institutional loans for anybody who feels like they have a pressing need.”

Packer said any student can visit the Financial Aid office and apply for a short-term institutional loan.

“The news last night (Oct. 4) said students have a way to get their books and they have emergency funds accessible,” Packer said. “If students don’t know, they can stop in and get those funds, and hopefully they know that we are doing everything we can to fix it.”

Packer said students can pay back the institutional loan with their financial aid money when it comes through.

“As long as things keep going the way they are with our fixes and implementing the system, by winter everything should be fine and smooth and sent out as normal,” Packer said.

Packer said the university is also trying to work with off-campus housing and most of the apartment managers have cooperated.

“We’re coming up on two months now, and it still comes down to us giving loans out one by one,” Packer said.

Spencer Flake, a junior studying political science, said he has heard several students on campus complaining about the delays in financial aid.

“It hasn’t affected me or my wife,” Flake said. “But I know it’s really put a lot of people on edge.”

Packer says they are aware of the frustrations of students and parents alike and he feels like at this point they are putting forth their best effort.

“The Financial Aid Office is doing everything they can to test the new software and give out aid,” Packer said. “They’re working in the evenings and sometimes on the weekends just to get it out.”

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