Rochelle Cole, a student at UM’s College of Technology, says she got her financial aid check on time this fall—but her daughter, UM student Ryann Harris, says she didn’t get hers. According to Cole, both she and Harris filed their applications well within the FAFSA deadline at the beginning of 2004 (all UM students’ financial aid goes through the same office this year after COT Associate Director of Financial Aid Daniel Burke retired in early 2004). Harris claims her tuition has been paid but that the University has told her that her refund check was cancelled because she applied past the deadline. She’ll now wait until spring to receive a check, and has gone on welfare in the meantime.
Cole asserts her daughter is one of several students she’s aware of having check troubles this year and wonders if the UM financial aid office is “inept or overworked.”
Director of Financial Aid Mick Hansen, in UM’s Department of Enrollment Services, points out that there are myriad mandates about when and how refund checks are disbursed, but says that if a student applied on time and completed all the necessary documentation requirements, she’d receive her money, no problem.
He also says, “We had more students apply on time than ever before. And we had more late financial aid applications than ever before.” This is a situation, he explains, “where the cost of tuition and fees are increasing more rapidly than the financial aid…and so more and more people are applying for financial aid because their summer jobs aren’t enough.”
With such a slow fire season this year, many student firefighters didn’t start applying for financial aid until August, he says.
“Our biggest volume [of applications] to process are from those who apply after Aug. 1,” he adds, saying that the financial aid office has received more than 2,000 applications since then.
More than 60 percent of UM students apply for some kind of financial aid, according to Hansen, and the financial aid office processes about $30 million in aid each year.