She was one of the brightest students attending Drexel. She was fun, friendly and hard working. Her career goal was to become a psychologist and help people through their disorders. Working until the late hours of night, she was often still studying and working from her textbooks as I climbed into bed to sleep. During the weekends, she hung out with her friends and was well known around Calhoun Hall. However, where is she now?
Unable to pay for Drexel University because of financial aid problems, she dropped out at the start of the second term, despite having kept her grades up and being on top of her responsibilities. When I learned about this, I couldn’t help but wonder why. She explained that, at the beginning of the year, due to the divorce of her parents, her financial aid information wasn’t correct. However, no matter how many times she submitted the required papers and emailed the financial aid staff, the requirements remained “unsatisfied.”
Having not registered for classes come winter term, she spent the first few days trying to sort out the problem. It was evident that she wanted to stay at Drexel; however, in the end, the financial aid department lowered her financial aid because of the discrepancies in her family’s income, and she was no longer able to afford the cost of Drexel tuition.
The Princeton Review awarded Drexel’s financial aid department the honor of being one of the worst in the country in the years 2003 and 2004. After this honor was bestowed on the University, most of the staff was fired or “stepped down” and new workers were hired. However, the process doesn’t change simply because the people are replaced. Because Drexel charges students tuition before accounts are credited for the financial aid package, most students were confused, and some were left unable to do anything about the financial holds.
There are many students who come into Drexel University and have to apply for loans in order to afford their education. However, the financial aid department is renowned for its slow processing of loan checks and other packages. This has to change. If a student doesn’t know what financial aid they received for the year, how can they know the balance remaining that must be paid off with other loans like Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo? Interest rates increase if a student applies for the loans at a later date and it is in their best interest to receive the information from Drexel as early as possible.
There are also many students who do not know what they want from their education and decide later on to change their programs length, their major, their concentration or their minor. The process requires signatures from several departments and the wait time is notorious at the financial aid office. I went through the process recently and was lucky enough to only have to wait a few minutes to get a representative to sign my papers, but there are stories of students waiting for 30 minutes to an hour. A friend of mine even said, “It’s like they went to grab a donut or get coffee while I was waiting to get the papers signed.”
College students have it hard enough with loans to pay in the future, social life wreaking havoc on studying and wondering whether or not the career chosen will be one they’d enjoy. Students have a lot on their plate already; why put financial aid troubles on their shoulders too?