Aid delays plague students

Freshman Amber Hunnicutt was supposed to receive financial aid from the University to help her afford the nation’s highest tuition, but instead she owes GW $20,000 while her paperwork remains unprocessed.

“I still don’t have the aid I was promised.” Hunnicutt said. “I called the financial aid office every single day and spent at least 45 minutes on hold each time. The office was always really nice, but I shouldn’t have to wait this long to get my aid.”

Many students who applied for financial aid this fall faced difficulties and delays due to the relocation of the Office of Student Financial Services during their busiest time, administrators said. Although the office maintains a presence in the Marvin Center, many of its employees and back offices moved to a new site at the Virginia Campus in Loudoun, Va.

Dan Small, the executive director of financial assistance, said the financial aid office had to move before the beginning of the school year to avoid conflicting with other offices looking for new space.

“We were challenged in trying to figure out how to shift the processing unit to the Loudoun Campus and still review and certify aid applications, loan paperwork, respond to inquiries and make sure all the staff had the same access as before in order to complete their job assignments,” Small said.

Freshman Nate Whittle had a similar experience as Hunnicutt when he applied for financial aid.

“The financial aid application process has been frustrating,” he said. “The office hasn’t been very clear with my loans and my statement. Even though they talked to me through e-mail I always got vague responses. They didn’t lead me in the right direction.”

Whittle lives in Thurston Hall, but since his statement is outdated, he is still being charged to live in the more-expensive Potomac House. He says he is “pretty sure” that he will get the loans and financial aid that GW promised, but the office has still not confirmed that he is receiving aid.

Not everyone who applied for financial aid this fall ran into problems. Jordan Black, a freshman, said GW’s financial aid offer was a deciding factor in his college choice.

“GW was really professional when they presented me with the financial aid information,” Black said. “They were also timely and called me to talk more about the offer. It was a very positive experience.”

The office is in the process of improving their system in order to ensure satisfaction for GW students.

“We hope with the new imaging system and changes to processing it will enhance our operation to be more efficient,” said Small. “The end result is that we have improved our back office capabilities so that we can provide excellent customer service to our students.”

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