Students will receive advance of financial aid

by Megan Boldt

Because of a glitch in a new University computer system, financial aid and scholarships will not be disbursed to students on time. Students will receive help in another form from the University, however.
The 8,000 students who receive financial aid for off-campus room and board or for textbooks will receive a University advance.
Billing for University costs will be delayed until early- to mid-October when financial aid and scholarships can be processed in the new computer system.
“Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the students depending on financial aid are getting the money they need to start classes,” said Bob Kvavik, a University associate vice president. “We’ve been sending checks out to these students for the past few weeks.”
Students usually receive credit balance refund checks to be used for non-University expenses only.
“We knew there would be a problem with disbursing financial aid and scholarship funds in a timely manner,” said Nancy Sinsabaugh, interim director for the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. “We needed to help students get the funds they need, so we decided to do the advance program.”
The first letters were sent out to students offering them these University advances on Aug. 11, said Craig Swan, vice provost for undergraduate education.
“Already 4,000 checks have been processed,” Swan said. “On average about 800 to 1,000 are being processed every day.”
Once a student mails his or her check request to the University, it takes about 10 days to process and mail the check back to students.
Not all of the 37,000 students who receive financial aid are eligible for this advance.
Most students’ financial aid is less than or equal to the amount they owe for University costs such as tuition, fees and residence costs.
“These students need not worry, either,” Sinsabaugh said. “No University student will be receiving a bill for University costs until all the financial aid is processed.”
Bills are expected to be mailed out at the beginning of October and will then be due at the beginning of November, a month later than usual.
To compensate for the tuition billing and the special advances, the University could incur up to $250,000 interest on short-term bank loans of about $50 million. These loans will be repaid when regular scholarships and financial aid are disbursed to students.
The interest will be paid for from the $53 million budget for the new computer system upgrade.
“We are just making sure that students get the funds they are entitled to,” Sinsabaugh said.

Megan Boldt covers city government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.