University bails out financial aid office

Although more than 45 eligible students started out the second semester without complete financial aid packages, the University distributed funds last week after the office received an additional $500,000.

Though the financial aid office received a $10-$11 million increase from last year, about 700 more students qualified for financial aid this year, putting the office in a tight spot. Director for Student Financial Assistance Dan Small said he was prepared for and expected the increase because of hard economic times, but not to the extent it occurred.

This year, nearly $80 million in University funds was earmarked for student financial aid.

“Sometime in October we were looking at our allocation and realized we risked spending all of our GW resources,” Small said.

While those who filed paperwork at the beginning of the year received their complete packages, those who filed late or had changes in their financial situations found themselves on a “waiting list” for assistance.

Financial aid officials told students they would receive as much federal and work study aid as they were applicable for, but not GW funds.

Small and other officials worked over winter break to secure more finances from larger funds. The University ended up granting packages to the 45 students after receiving the half-million dollar allocation. Senior Vice President for Student Academic and Support Services Robert Chernak said the money was available from extra revenue from an increase in student population this spring.

Students affected by the shortfall voiced concerns about the future of financial aid at GW, but Small said he hopes administrators evaluate the situation at hand.

“Hopefully this will make everyone (within the University) more aware of the economic changes taking place in the country … parents are losing their jobs and we’re trying to assist their children as much as we can while they’re at the University,” Small said. “Bottom line (is), we’re trying to make sure we can keep students who already attend GW at the University.”

Senior Amanda Degan was one of the 45 students that ran into problems most recently with Office of Financial Aid.

Degan said she found out she was put on a waiting list when she sought a reinstatement of her Presidential Scholarship last semester.

“They said they were ‘out of money,'” Degan said.

Last Friday, however, Degan was removed from the list and given her $3,000 scholarship.

“Although I got it back, it was a pretty trying experience,” she said.

Some students, however, acknowledged the difficulty GW has in doling out millions of dollars each year and understand how the shortfall happened.

“As with anything, it could have been easier, and there are always going to be issues but, given that, my dealings (with the office) were pretty decent,” freshman Chris Roy said.

-Mosheh Oinounou contributed

to this report.

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