#1: Financial aid

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Financial aid for college students has been considered a mixed blessing.

The money students need in order to pay for tuition and textbooks (which cost at least one vital organ) is required to jump through blazing hoops before reaching their hands.

We like to call this “bureaucracy.”

Students constantly criticize their financial aid departments. In fact, The Princeton Review features a category when ranking schools that determines how happy students are with their financial aid. I can say that at least once a semester, I get a friend or two that complains about financial aid – not about the money itself, but the people who handle it.

So while financial aid can be a help, it can also be a burden. The financial aid office has been a source of woe and, frankly, utter confusion for many college students. Students from the University of Mississippi aren’t safe either.

Vanessa Allen, a senior math major at the University of Mississippi, has gone to the office of financial aid twice trying to get for aid money, with no luck.

Like many students still waiting for financial aid, the wait is causing problems for Allen.

“I am frustrated (like) anybody else who is waiting for financial aid,” Allen said. “When the money isn’t there, you can’t do anything about it.”

The university is trying to accommodate students like Allen who have been coming in to the financial aid office for the past three weeks.

It seems that university life can be defined by how crappily financial aid runs at your school. I know my own university is no exception; UniGo.com, a source of student opinions and college reviews, describes my university’s administrative offices as sluggish.

“[They] aren’t first-rate: students describe a lot of disorganization and bureaucratic hurdles,” writes the Web site.

One sophomore wrote on UniGo.com that “the most problematic area on campus is the Financial Aid office.” A senior noted, “FIU administrative policies take way too much time to process. Too bureaucratic.”

So why does the financial aid office suffer? The answer is quite simple: demand. With well over 30,000 students, FIU – like other universities – is overwhelmed with the demand for money; money needed quickly and in large amounts. Since the state’s Department of Education handles financial aid for every school within Florida, it’s understandable that quality might not be on par.

Since every state has a department of education, I’m sure the mechanics of aid disbursement works in similar ways. So when you take bigger states – like New York and California – you’re probably going to have the same, but bigger problem.

Why doesn’t the situation improve? The answer is quite simple (and the same): demand. More and more young individuals are going to college – an associate’s degree doesn’t cut it anymore, and with our current economy, every penny counts; with higher education levels comes higher paychecks. According to this article from CollegeGrad.com, people with B.A.’s “earn $15,400 more than associate’s degree holders.”

You hear that? That’s my checking account telling me to get back to work.

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One response to “#1: Financial aid

  1. Pingback: Obama’s Stimulus Package – or, “Students: REJOICE!” « Across the Quad

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