The staff editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial board of The Murray State News.
With state and federal aid drying up in face of budget tightening, students at Murray State have not been strangers to increased tuition fees and cutbacks in services offered on campus.
Nevertheless, many students have found themselves in hangups involving student financial aid in the nearing of the semester.
Although ranked highly by Forbes and U.S. News for its affordability and financial aid packages, many students checked their MyGate to find that needed financial aid had not been delivered yet, causing headaches and more than one angry phone call.
The change in delivery of financial aid to students is the result of Murray State partnering with the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), a public corporation and government agency that manages several financial aid programs.
Because of a Department of Education mandate that requires students receiving financial aid to undergo a verification process, approximately one in three students will have to be verified according to Fred Dietz, executive director of enrollment management at Murray State.
Verification sounds simple enough, but according to students, the process can take weeks or still be in process as of this writing. Many students have reported that they received their financial aid later than usual or have yet to receive it. The KHEAA process allows the agency to thoroughly review documents such as W2’s and income tax transcripts to determine whether or not a student qualifies for student aid.
Students have voiced concerns about the process, many of whom have stretched themselves thin to make ends meet until financial aid arrives.
“I’m on another friend’s couch until I can get my financial aid because that’s what I live on,” Corrie Stroup, a senior from Paducah, Ky. said. “I’m also going to get my classes purged again, because it’s taking so long to get my aid.”
Similar sentiments have come from other students as well. Later financial aid delivery will not cause students to be dropped from classes says Dietz, who emphasized that no student undergoing verification would be purged from his or her classes.
Nevertheless, the response from the Office of Financial Aid at Murray State has also borne the brunt of student criticism and disatisfaction. “When I contacted the office of Financial Aid about my concerns they quickly pushed me off to KHEAA,” Nancy Starks, a senior from Cadiz, Ky., said. “When I finally reached them, they just told me they had my paperwork and it was processing.”
With the changes in how financial aid is delievered to students coming as a surprise for most, we at The Murray State News would like to see a more transparent process with regard to financial aid delivery.
At the very least, students who receive financial aid should be informed of the change in policy with regard to verification. We realize that the actions of KHEAA on delivering these verifications might take more time than we are used to, but we should not be entirely in the dark about the process. Students should be made aware of the change to help them make adequate arrangements as far as finances are concerned.
With many Murray State students receiving financial aid in one form or another, we don’t think that more transparency on the part of the Office of Financial Aid and the administration is too much to ask. Students should be informed as a whole rather than finding out about the process only when something goes awry.
No one should have to worry about whether or not the aid they need is going to be there at the end of the day. While we understand that KHEAA is only fulfilling the mandate imposed on it by the Department of Education, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a better way to verify without delaying financial aid payments.