Here is why our Financial Aid office sucks…
As promised here is my correspondance with them over the last several weeks. I have edited the unnecessary fluff of some of the emails due to space constraints (and reader’s interest levels)
Email received from James Mackin on 1/10/2005 at 10:30:
“…I also want to remind you that the deadline for payment of fees without penalty for the spring semester is Wednesday, January 12, 2005. As of this morning, you have an outstanding balance of $1403. ..”
“I am not sure why I have recieved this email. I have been granted HOPE for Spring semester 2005, which should cover all costs of enrollment. Is there a form that I need to fill out to process this information?”
He told me to contact Financial Aid so I called them and was informed that my HOPE scholarship was still being processed and I might need to pay a $25 extension fee. I was told to call back, so I did multiple times. I checked my class schedule on the DUCK and found out I had been dropped from all of my classes. I called the Registrar’s office and I was again told to contact the Financial Aid department. They told me my HOPE had been processed and applied to Summer 2005 because I was not currently enrolled this semester (because they dropped me). The only thing I could do is appeal the tuition. So I did.
Email from Diane Burns on 1/20/2005:
“I am writing to let you know that your tuition payment appeal has been approved. The Registrar has reinstated your complete schedule of classes.
In order to maintain your registration, you must pay your entire balance due (including a $25 extension fee) in the Bursarâ€™s Office before 5 p.m. on Friday, January 21, 2005.”
“What is the $25 extension fee for?”
“This fee is charged to anyone whose fee payment deadline was extended beyond January 12th, the fee payment deadline. Because you are paying after the deadline, this fee is automatically assessed.
Those who paid it up front and requested an extension were not dropped during the drop process and were given until February 1 to pay. An email was sent to your CCSU email address from Dr. James Mackin before fee payment deadline indicating your balance due and the availability of requesting an extension.
This fee is used to defray the costs of staff time associated with fee payment extensions. To accommodate this extension, we cannot use automated processes but must handle the reinstatements, etc. manually.
I hope this helps you understand why this fee is required.”
“What I am not understanding is the paperwork for my HOPE scholarship should have been processed long before James Mackin sent me an email notice. Why was this paperwork late if I submitted it before the deadline?”
“Have you been to financial aid or emailed them about this problem? I do not know the answer to your question, but I’m sure financial aid could assist you with an answer.”
I got smart here and decided on my boss’ advice to contact Kevin Rome and have a meeting with him about the situation. I did and met with him on 1/21/2005. Meanwhile, I continued my email responses. Diane Burns seems to be frustrated because the next email was from Gina Byrd.
Email from Gina Byrd on 1/21/2005:
“According to our records, we sent you award letters for HOPE Scholarship on May 4, 2004 and also June 10, 2004 for Fall 2004 and Spring 2005 semesters. You did not attend Fall semester. Your HOPE has been available to you since last year. I’m not quite sure what issues you may have with our office processing your file.
If you did not disburse your own finanacial aid once you registered, that may be the issue. All students are required to click on “How Much Do I Owe” on the DUCK to disburse their individual funds once they’ve completed their registration.”
Please note that I did this a LONG time ago. I had spoken with Kevin Rome by this point and he had assured me that the extension fee would be removed. This is where it gets good. After the fee was “removed” it showed up under my HOPE award as a $25 fee to be taken out of my HOPE book money. I was still paying for the damn fee out of my pocket!
Email from Diane Burns on 1/24/2005:
” I am checking into your financial aid situation regarding your HOPE award. If we are somehow at fault for your award not being in place in time, I will ask the Bursarâ€™s office to return the $25 fee for extension. ”
“I spoke with Kevin Rome on Friday afternoon about the issue with the $25 fee, and he should have gotten in contact with you and resolved the matter. I checked on the DUCK on (1/24/2005) and I am viewing the following information…EXT Payment Extension Fee $25.00…
I still paid the Payment Extension Fee, except now, the fee has now appears to have come out of my HOPE book money, which is unacceptable… If I am mistaken, then I apologize for the inconvienence, however this looks to me like you did not drop that late payment after Kevin Rome spoke with you, rather Financial Aid simply moved the charges under my HOPE award balance. I can’t help but feel your department has tried to slip this past me, hoping I would not notice or care.”
Diane Burns response:
“No one is trying to slip anything past you in the enrollment services department. In fact, I explained to you in an earlier email that I am concerned that your financial aid award is accurate and that you are only billed for charges that are appropriate. As I stated before, I agree that you should not pay the $25 extension fee if your HOPE money should have been in place in time for the fee payment deadline.”
Then mysteriously I got an email from Kevin Rome the same day:
“I wanted to let you know that the charges will be reversed. It may take a little while to reflect on your bill, but it will be removed. Thanks.”
Since then all charges have been dropped. About damn time too, because I was considering requesting an audience with President Harden about the incompetence of the Fiancial Aid department. I swear these people couldn’t tie their own shoes! They did this shit to me last semester too I would like to point out and I had to speak with the Dean to “approve” re-enrollment. If you are reading this, thanks for sticking through what I believed to be an entertaining story at the least showcasing the problems with our departments at CCSU. Have a great week guys!