Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We should re-evaluate the "aid" part of financial aid department

As a 1L with 4 1/2 years of college under my belt I consider myself a veteran of the never ending Office of Financial Aid War, code named Operation Do Your Job. Today was a tipping point in the war however, and we have our first documented casualty- my knuckles. That's right, after dealing with the incompetence that is the OFA at my college my temper rose to such a level that I lashed out and punched a table in an effort to keep from having an anyeurism. Some of you out there may be thinking to yourself, "this guy's an idiot, what does punching a table solve?", to which I hope you will understand that hearing the same excuses for the last half decade will lead you to do some stupid things.

Allow me to explain the situation. At the beginning of December I applied for a grad plus loan. These are loans available to graduate level students to help pay for the general expenses of living, books, etc. At the time this money was necessary to make it through the holidays so I requested the disbursement to be for both the fall and spring terms, knowing that the fall disbursement would be applied ASAP instead of waiting until the spring semester. Well I forgot to factor in the idiocy and laxidaze of the OFA, and as luck would have it they were not able to get around to my disbursement until this week (or January 4th as I was told in an email quite some time ago). So January 4th rolls around and guess who still hasn't received the loan? After some investigation and 15-20 minutes of on-hold elevator music I was informed that this loan was applied to my spring tuition and would now be refunded in due course with the rest of this semester's refund.

So what happens to refunds once they've been processed by our OFA? They are sent to an outsourced company who provides debit cards and direct depositing to students at the institutions they have contracted with. This means that ONCE the OFA has done the job they were originally supposed to do in whatever amount of time that takes the refund is now sent off for an additional processing and release period of 24 hours to a couple of days or even a week. Can you think of a more unnecessary middle man?

Just another whining college student, right? Well bite me! There are two things to point out: 1) I'm a law student. This means that I have to purchase all of my books and supplements at least a week in advance in order to read for the first day of class. 2) As a 1L we are not allowed to have jobs during our first year. So for those of us not living off of mommy and daddy that loan disbursement is pretty damn important to make it through the year. So maybe, jussssst maybe it would be nice if the nutless monkeys that work at that office could try to put the aid back into financial aid rather being the Office of Financial Pain as they usually are.

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