These past few weeks, students have been waking up to some big bills. More than 100 students have received a note from the financial aid department here at Texas A&M- Kingsville, stating that they owe a certain sum to the university.
The payment comes from a mistake in the financial aid office where these students were “over-rewarded.” Now, the way this works is that students get evaluated upon certain factors of their education and the department determines a student’s educational expenses. From there the department creates a package based on the needs of the student and how much their expenses will eventually cost; afterward, the student is awarded his financial aid package.
The department claims sometime near the middle of the year a mistake was made. Some students had not disclosed certain information that would have changed their expenses and therefore the amount of money they would have received; leading to the over awarding problems.
Now while this does seem like a difficult situation, a lot can be said about the state of financial aid this semester. About 102 students now have to pay back around $207,000; keep in mind that is around $2,029 per student. However, this isn’t how it was split up. The South Texan has heard reports of some people needing to payback $3,000, $5,000 worth of funds. For a college student, that is a near death sentence in terms of payback; especially right before a break.
Now this is the problem, the financial aid office has to fix this and is asking for a refund. The law does state that aid funding cannot surpass a student’s expenses. However, that does leave some questions. Why wasn’t the adjustment sooner? Does this correlate with the fact that people had trouble receiving financial aid this semester? Will there be any way for students to be forgiven for a problem they didn’t realize was happening until just a week ago?
The financial aid office does have to see where the students are coming from with their frustration. Near the end of the semester, all of a sudden, this gargantuan debt plops right in their laps. Some of these students are ready to graduate, others ready to start vacation or a sumer job, and now, with no real fault to them, they have a significant problem.
More than likely, these are the students who had a hard-enough problem paying tuition to begin with. The very function that the financial aid office operates under is to help students pay for their educaiton. If you are one of the students who is having this problem, I sincerely suggest that you contact the financial aid office and try to set a meeting with a representative to discuss the matter in full.
Hopefully, by next semester the problems with the financial aid office will have subsided. I doubt this is simply a problem with having an interim director in the department and more likely a major miscommunication problem between the administration and the students.
The number of students that have been affected by this cannot be confirmed at the time, we only have the roughest of estimations.