Some students still waiting for refunds

The lack of financial aid disbursements has put several Florida A&M students in a serious compromise. They have questions and problems that continually go unaddressed.  

The first wave of funds was disbursed on Sept. 30.  The next wave of disbursements has not been determined. 

Students question why administration is taking a long time to process documents for funds to be released.  Neighboring institutions such as Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University, received refunds as early as the second week of the semester.

According to Henry Lewis III, current dean of the College of Pharmacy and former interim president for FAMU, there is a more in-depth process to receiving a refund check. 

“The Office of Financial Aid is only responsible for approval and certification of funds a student can receive for the school year,” Lewis said. “Financial aid doesn’t cut the checks because it’s the responsibility of student accounts.”

Students go to financial aid in search of answers to questions about finances, but sometimes the problem is too extensive for the administrators in the office to handle.

Marcia Boyd, director of financial aid, said more than 90 percent of FAMU students need financial aid to fund their educations.

Out of the 12,000 students who applied for aid, 9,800 have successfully completed the financial aid process and received their refunds on time. The rest of the students who have not received funds may have missed a step in the process.

FAMU students use their refunds to pay for bills and other expenses. Charlton Bradley, 22, a fourth-year political science student from Jacksonville said it is really inconvenient to deal with financial aid sometimes.

“I was just awarded my financial aid last week, but I’m still waiting for my refund so I can fix my car,” Bradley said. “Luckily I stay with my sister so I don’t have to worry about rent.”

Boyd said students fail to realize the financial aid office cannot be held responsible for all issues. Many problems can be prevented and dealt with before the school year begins.

“When students walk into my office upset and demanding their money, it’s discouraging to me and my staff,” she said.

“It’s frustrating when the office receives a bad reputation especially when we [are] working so diligently to serve every student in a timely manner.”

Some students received a refund in a timely manner as a result of checking the status of electronic documents.

Lakeisha White, 22, a senior music education student from Jackson, Miss., was one of these students. 

“I was able to get my refund back on time since I kept monitoring from the FASFA Web site and looked at my SAR (Student Aid Report),” she said.  “I was able to give the school all of the necessary things needed in order before the school year started.”

Boyd added that students could help the Office of Financial Aid by doing their part. A student should fill out the free application from Federal Student Aid in January of every year and monitor the application process.

The application process begins January 1 and goes on until June 30.  The earlier students apply, the greater chance to be eligible for more money.

“When students walk into my office upset and demanding their money, it’s discouraging to me and my staff,” she said.