Each fall, the line outside of the Financial Aid office trails through the halls of the Admissions Building. The sounds of frustrated and confused students echo through customer service, those confused sounds are about to get a lot louder as Financial Aid changes its Cost of Attendance policy.
Students who are enrolled less than full-time after August 14 may have their financial aid decreased or increased (this includes grants, loans and work study). The Financial Aid Office has changed how they determine the ceiling of financial aid offered to students.
Maureen Stigler, the interim assistant director of customer service for financial aid and scholarships, estimates 300 students will likely feel the impact of this change.
Financial Aid uses the cost of attendance (COA) to determine the amount of aid a student is eligible to receive. This will be evaluated twice a semester.
Previously, Financial Aid would set up a budget for students based on full-time or less than half-time; they would then total up the COA based on that information. The total would then set the ceiling for financial aid.
Now, a student’s COA is determined based on enrollment level.
Between August 14 and September 10, a student’s Pell Grant may be adjusted twice; once for the first disbursement of the semester and once after the Pell census date when your academic load has been locked. Before it was adjusted daily until the tenth day of the semester.
This means a student could drop a class, receive a full refund for the fees and then discover after September 11 they owe money back because their financial aid has been reduced.
Full-time students will not experience any change to their financial aid. However, students signed up for 12 credits that are wait-listed may see a change. Students less than half-time will also be unaffected. Financial aid hopes to alert all students of this change.
“We want to get the word out to all students because wait-listed classes do not count towards your enrollment,” Stigler said.
Stigler encourages students to keep a close eye on their Student Center in their BroncoWeb account. Cody Peterman, a music education major, shared his thoughts on the change.
“The information is explained clearly and it’s good to see that they are changing things to try to make them better,” Peterman said. “However, from what I understand it seems that financial aid is becoming less flexible. For example, your Pell Grant can only be adjusted twice before September 9.”
Peterman explained the changes probably will not impact him but he did show some concern regarding his Pell Grant.
“The new wait-listing restrictions on financial aid don’t worry me. However, there are now more hoops to jump through and I always seem to be stuck with at least one class that I can’t get into until school starts,” Peterman said.
Financial Aid representatives understand this change may cause frustration and confusion for some students. Stigler asks students to be patient.
“We will be empathetic and willing to work with students through many circumstances,” Stigler said. “There are some things we are going to learn as the situation occurs.”
In some circumstances, if a student has a negative balance, instead of forcing them to pay it back immediately, Financial Aid can adjust their spring aid to reflect the amount owed.
For more information, visit http://financialaid.boisestate.edu.