This archived article was written by: Shadayah Jones
It is no secret that there have been problems with FAFSA since the merger with Utah State University in June 2011. According to Kim Booth, director of financial aid and scholarships, approximately 300 students have had problems. “We have had over 300 students that have had to make corrections to their FAFSA because of the change of school codes this year,” Booth said.
He explains that before College of Eastern Utah merged with USU, the financial aid staff was dealing with approximately 800 students with financial aid. “Since the merger, our 800 students have been combined with Logan students and are now part of the 20,000-plus students receiving aid. The financial aid offices on all three campuses are dealing with more students, and trying to stay organized as much as possible, but the entire process of FAFSA takes time.”
After students apply for financial aid online, it takes about seven to ten days for that information to get to the main campus in Logan. After that, about one-in-three students are selected for verification. After that, Logan personally process the verifications submitted and that sometime can take days up to weeks to be completed.
This is a very long process and if any problems arise, that process will be slowed down. Some problems can occur with the Internal Revenue Service or the IRS. If your address information does not match theirs, their financial information will not be loaded and will need to get a tax transcript. it will be denied and that can take days. When you are dealing with the IRS, you get three chances to make the address-match right correction. After those three are up, you must wait 24 hours to try again.
Another problem is that Internet Explorer is not really compatible with USU’s IT pages where you setup a password and get logged in to your Banner Account. The best program that works is Firefox. If students are using Explorer, they may be faced with problems.
According to Booth, the majority of the problems are because students fail to check their banner “To Do” list. On students banner, account they need to go to the “To Do” list and fix any problems that has occurred with financial aid. Also students need to go and accept their financial aid and agree to the terms and conditions. Booth says that he receives about 30 to 40 calls day regarding FAFSA. “I think about 25 of those calls can be resolved if students would just check their banner. At least 90 percent of students’ questions can be answered if they just look at their banner account.”
Although there have been many problems concerning FAFSA, the financial aid staff are doing as much as they can to fix all of them. “We are trying to be proactive and get them fixed. We will try as quickly as we can to resolve your problems,” Booth says.
As students, we can also help fix these problems. According to Booth, students can help out by asking questions. “If you have a questions or a problem bring it to our attention so it will get fixed.” Also students need to do follow-ups on their FAFSA. They need to be responsible for what is happening with their financial aid and catch problems early.
The best time for students to apply for FAFSA is as soon as possible. Booth advises, “about three weeks after taxes are done, fill out FAFSA. This will give time for it to be processed and to fix any problems that arise early enough so students will have their financial aid when school starts.”
The financial aid office is doing the best they can to help out students and fix the problems that they have. As students we can help them out by checking banner as much as possible and being patient with the staff.