Editorial Notebooks

Improve Office of Financial Aid

Whenever I interact with the Institute, I always try to take a step back and find focus. Whether it’s FIXX, unhelpful professors, dumb rules, or bad hours and locations, I always try to give the ‘tute the benefit of the doubt. I have drawn the line for Financial Aid, however.

The Office of Financial Aid has major issues—issues in communication, specifically. If I had been hurt by miscommunication once, that’s fine. Twice, that’s a coincidence. Four times? Over a period of not even two schools years? We’re passing into statistically significant territory here.

This semester, for the fourth time since I started college here, I have been the victim of miscommunication. I was told one thing in an e-mail by Financial Aid, in this case assuring me that I had money that evidentially doesn’t exist, and then told another thing in person. And beyond these two inconsistencies, the Bursar’s Office tells me a completely different story. The consistency of communication between departments needs some very serious attention. I would accept being told bad news. I’m no stranger to bad news, and while I don’t like dealing with Financial Aid, I can deal with it. It is another thing entirely to tell me in person that everything will be alright, and that I have money, and to be told by an e-mail or a phone call that it isn’t true anymore, or vice versa. And like I have said, this has happened to me multiple times. I am in a small amount of trouble with the Bursar as we speak because I spent money I was told I had, only to find out that wasn’t true.

The lines of communication between the directors of Financial Aid and the students could also use some publicizing and clarification. I had some serious issues sat the beginning of last semester paying for school. All of my issues could have been easily solved had Financial Aid informed me of my scholarships sooner and bothered to find out why I asked for more loan money than they thought I needed. Instead of accepting my original estimate for how much loan money I needed, Financial Aid rejected money that I later had to come up with out of pocket, and this school isn’t cheap. Paying for things out of pocket isn’t always easy, or possible for that matter.

The final gripe I have with Financial Aid, and the real reason I have drawn the line with them, is that they aren’t even nice about it. Whenever I go to talk to them in person at Academy Hall, they aren’t friendly. Dealing with them feels like being told that they hate me and the bands I like, and are dealing with me only because they are being paid for it. Soften the bad news with a smile, or pretend to sympathize for God’s sake. I’m paying way more than I can afford to go and talk to these people that act like I’m not worth their time. I get it. I’m poor. I’m ugly. I smell. Whatever the reason, I can put on a happy face for customers whenever I work with them at my job; it wouldn’t kill them to do the same.