Financial aid
Struggles continue as new federal law affects student life

Financial aid delays continue for many students. Over halfway through the term, some students are still waiting to receive their funds. The delays have created hardships for many students as they struggle to stay in school without the benefits of financial aid. Many have had to resort to selling possessions or borrowing money.

When Graphic Communications student Jesse Proctor had his financial aid delayed, he had to be creative in coming up with rent.  “I had to sell my truck,” Proctor said. He does not expect to receive his funds until around the end of the term. For him, selling his truck was the only way to manage until then. He now rides a motorcycle to school – rain or shine.

Ron and Rhonda Thornberry are married, both attend UCC full-time and neither has received their financial aid. Rhonda has made a routine of looking for the money. “I go to my mailbox every day hoping to find a check,” she said. The couple resides in Tenmile and drives to the college. Rhonda added, “We depend on that money to buy gas to get back and forth.”

For UCC student Don Gilman, the consequences of the delay could be dire. “I may have to move from my home or worse, I may have to drop out of school,” said Gilman.

The delays are due in part to recent changes in financial aid made by the federal government, primarily the requirements of “pace.” Each student’s file now has to be evaluated to ensure they are completing their degree program (or certificate) at the government’s required rate of progression. This is the first year for complying with the new regulations, and it has contributed to a slowing of the process.

However, there are a few things students can do to lessen the possibility of their funds being delayed. First and foremost, the financial aid staff urges students to check their Riverhawk Web/Student Self Service Banner account weekly to make sure all required documents have been filled out and their files are complete.

“This is the way we communicate with students,” said Michelle Bergmann, director of financial aid. “If any additional information is needed, it will be there.” Financial aid evaluates files in the order they are completed. Often a student will be waiting on funds when it was an incomplete file that was causing the delay.

Students can access their accounts through the following steps:  Go to Riverhawk Web/Student Self-Service Banner, enter secure area, log in with student ID and pin, click on Student and Financial Aid, Financial Aid, Eligibility and Student Requirements. Listed under student requirements will be notification of any incomplete documents.

Students can also use the IRS data retrieval tool when filling out their FAFSA. This will link tax returns directly to the FAFSA.

Starting this year, financial aid can no longer accept copies of tax returns from students. This information must now come directly from the IRS. If tax returns are not linked to the FAFSA, students will need to contact the IRS and request an “IRS tax return transcript” which could cause a few weeks delay.

Students can also use the student ambassador kiosk for additional help. The line at the financial aid window can sometimes be long. The student ambassadors are there to assist with any financial aid issues and can even help with filling out forms.

Student Survey

How did you manage when your financial aid was delayed?

Joyce Young Joyce Young

"I had to borrow quite a bit of money. I had nothing coming in from April to August."

Kimberly Satori Kimberly Satori

"It's been a nightmare. It literally keeps you up at night. The bills still need to be paid."

Richard Dye Richard Dye

"I've had to sell almost everything I own!"

Aaron Atencio Aaron Atencio

"I had to drive my mom's car, because my jeep costs too much."

Jeff Anttonen Jeff Anttonen

"I work six days a week on top of school, so I was able to get by."

Jesse Proctor Jesse Proctor

"I had to sell my truck!"

Kingsley Hubbell Kingsley Hubbell

"I went to food banks and took the bus. I also borrowed money."

Ron & Rhonda Thornberry
Ron, Rhonda Thornberry

"We've had to sell things that will have to be replaced later."

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.