Financial Aid: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Posted on Aug 26, 2008

I am able to go back to school because Sarah has finish school and got a job teaching at a high school. It turns out that a first year teacher makes about the same as a property manager. This means that since we were able to get by on my salary and the money Sarah was able to bring in on a part time basis while she was in school. We can get by on her salary and me having a part time job. Nice. Except school still costs a bundle of money each semester. This means financial aid and the headaches associated with the whole process.

First the good: the online application was super easy. I got out our last yearâa‚¬a„¢s taxes and filled in all of the important areas of the online form. Since I was old enough I didnâa‚¬a„¢t need to use my parentâa‚¬a„¢s personal or income information. I was able to submit it quickly and everything went nice and smooth. I received a nice little email saying that it had been received and to check with my school to see about my award information.

I logged into the schoolâa‚¬a„¢s website and navigated over to the financial aid section. They had received my financial aid information. I was ecstatic; I was going to receive help to pay for college go me. It was about that time that the Ugly arrived.

Apparently in all of my time in school, I hadnâa‚¬a„¢t received the best grades. In fact it is safe to say that my overall GPA is quite dismal. That being the case I was on suspension. I had to pass a certain number of credits in order to get off of suspension and qualify for financial aid. That was the purpose of my summer courses, to get off suspension.  I took the required credits and I was back in the game. Or so I thought.

Apparently the government likes to change requirements on receiving your financial aid. Apparently you have to have a social security card, a physical copy, in order to receive financial aid. I have never actually had a copy of my card. I have always just used my birth certificate or passport for I-9 forms and have never been bothered for an actual social security card. I went to turn in the online loan counseling paper and they told, which this was the first I heard of it, that I had to have a social security card in order to receive financial aid.

I remained calm. I asked if I could use my passport, they said âa‚¬Å"Oh that will probably be fine.âa‚¬ÂÃ‚ I brought my passport with me the next time and was told that it wouldnâa‚¬a„¢t do and that I needed a social security card. So off to the Social Security Office I went. I waited patiently for my turn in line, with my application filled out and my passport to prove my identity.  I got a paper from them saying that the social security number that is mine is associated with me since it takes up to two weeks to receive your new card.

I left that office and headed to the financial aid office. I waited in line for about two hours. TWO HOURS. Ok it was really only about forty minutes, but it seemed like forever. I met with a financial aid counselor and was told that that piece of paper issued by a government agency that stated that I was the owner of that social security number was not enough information to count as a social security card for financial aid purposes.

I was so mad. I politely informed the lady that I thought that she was incorrect in saying that and asked that she check with her supervisor as to the validity of my papers. She went to talk to her supervisor for the next twenty minutes, leaving me to fume at her desk. When she finally returned, it was with good news. That paper would be fine, I need to bring in my card when I receive it, but as far as getting my financial aid goes I am good to go. Take that lady.

My advice to anyone getting financial aid is to be strong with the financial aid office and if you think they are wrong, chances are they are. Donâa‚¬a„¢t be afraid to ask to talk to a supervisor or the director of financial aid. Also keep in mind that most of the people want to help you but they donâa‚¬a„¢t know everything.