Go West this summer and get ahead.

Georgia State’s face financial aid issues due to increase in students

From The Signal Archives, 2016

financialaid

Georgia State has been piling up financial aid forms and complaints from students heading to class unaware of their finances.

Georgia State student, Maiya Newton, said this is not her first year running into financial aid problems.

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“My paperwork has not been processed fast enough. This isn’t the first semester that this has happened to me. I had to wait in a long line at enrollment services for them to tell me that my classes were in jeopardy of being dropped, even though I filled out and submitted my forms days before they were due,” she said. “It’s really annoying that there are way more students than there are services, to help each student with their financial needs before the school year starts.”

The loans that students apply for are awarded not by Georgia State but by the federal government. Even after students have submitted all financial aid forms and all supporting documents, there is a wait before the applications are reviewed by the federal government and approved.

Often times there is something missing in the application—the student has not answered a question or the federal government has a follow-up question—and these matters have to be addressed before the federal government can approve the loan.

According to Timothy Renick, Georgia State Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Success, one of the biggest challenges that Georgia State faced this summer is the large increase in the number of financial aid applications and documents that have come in after the deadline. He said the delay is partially the students’ fault.

“Unfortunately, we had about 17,000 students who missed the financial aid deadline this year,” he said. “They either had incomplete files or they did not even start their financial aid applications until after the deadline.”

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He said the university was put under a “large strain” to process financial aid because of the delay.

“Students and their families have every right to expect timely and professional service, and we fell short of this standard too often this summer,” he said.

Renick explains further that the consolidation might have something to do with it.

“This is the first fall semester after the consolidation, though, and it has doubtlessly put strains on the abilities of our offices to respond to increased volume. Georgia State University has 50,000 students enrolled this fall, with more than 40,000 seeking financial aid. When you combine this increased size with thousands of students who missed deadlines, we have had wait times for help on the phones and in person that were far too long. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our students and their families, and we have a plan to handle the added demand in the future.”

Georgia State student Ashley Bynum said she also had trouble over the semester.

“My FAFSA wasn’t filled out on time for me to find out that I had basically maxed out on loans and apply for this retention grant,” she said. “Once I got through to financial aid after 600 people being in front of me, they told me the steps I needed in order to to get the retention grant. After I got dropped from my classes and went to the scholarship office a few times and paid my balance down, they awarded me the grant.”

Any student who had a completed file by July 31, meaning that all financial aid forms and supporting documents were submitted by the deadline, was packaged for their aid and loans on time.

Renick said the university is developing new resources to combat the problem.

“Due to an increased number of calls about financial aid and students, Georgia State will be hiring about 80 new staff members to help in financial aid, admissions, registration and advising,” he said.

According to Renick, most of the employees are set to start later this fall in both the Atlanta and Perimeter campuses.

As another help resource for financial aid, Georgia State is getting ready to open the SunTrust Student Financial Management Center in Sparks Hall to handle the number of calls at peak times, according to Renick. The center will have a trained team of financial counselors to help students get their financial aid issues handled.

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