When a student fears their financial aid is not going to come through, it can cause a person to want to give up. This was how I felt waiting for my financial aid package to come through.
Financial aid is not an afterthought when it comes to college. It is one of the primary sources that allows a student to start their journey. Issues in financial aid completing packages so late in the semester affected many students. The Financial Aid Department should anticipate late paperwork entries each semester and staff accordingly. Otherwise, MCCC could face lower student enrollment in the future.
As a first-year student at MCCC, I was excited to start school. I chose my classes and started to get familiar with WebPal and Brightspace while I waited for the semester to begin.
When I enrolled at the end of June, I turned in my FAFSA application June 29. I was diligent in submitting the needed paperwork to the office, but I noticed that I had to submit the same paperwork more than once. I visited the financial aid office several times a week. I was assured that they were working on my application and it should be finished before school started.
I was frustrated with the lack of funds to pay for my books and buy the things I needed to start my school year a success. When I found out that my application had been put at the bottom of the pile mistakenly. It took me constantly showing up at the financial aid office for someone to catch the error.
Gerald McCarty, dean of Student Services, said the next semester will be much easier and those in the financial aid office have now had training to understand our systems better and will be able to process applications much quicker.
I asked him what he and the staff were going to do differently next semester so that we don’t have the same hold-up on financial aid that we had this semester.
McCarty said the problem started last year when the financial aid director, assistant director and one employee had all resigned from financial aid within one to two weeks of each other.
McCarty served as interim director of financial aid, and an outside company processed all of the college’s financial aid.
Eventually, the college hired Nickie Hampsher as director of financial services from U of M Dearborn, who came in with 20 years of experience.
Hampsher and newly hired staff only had the summer to learn our system. They worked well over 40 hours a week to learn the system and get financial awards for the fall semester completed.
McCarty said they are in the process of interviewing new candidates and they are looking into working with a consultant from Ellucian, which is MCCC’s Student Information System, to aid in bettering their system for future semesters.
Let’s hope this semester’s fall fiasco doesn’t repeat itself.