Students Respond to New Financial Aid Policy

By Cara Ball

Students expressed mixed feelings about the new financial aid policy on campus.  An email sent out by the Office of Financial Aid said that all students receiving financial aid are required to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade-point average.

Animal Science freshman Jasmine Robinson said the new policy may be putting too much pressure on freshmen in particular.

“When you’re a freshman, you’re trying to adjust to the campus; it’s like they’re putting pressure on us by saying that we have to have a 2.0 GPA.”

But Robinson said she does understand why this policy is being pushed.

“I think that (the Office of Financial Aid) thinks that people are taking advantage of Financial Aid,” Robinson said.

“Freshmen are coming in and not doing their job, so the university is trying to make sure that people come into college and handle their responsibilities.”

The policy, which was implemented at the end of spring semester 2010, is the result of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, or HEOA.

“For many years, federal regulations have required students to meet the school’s academic standards in order to receive financial aid,” Rick Shipman, director of the Office of Financial Aid, said.

“The recent HEOA revised and tightened these rules to require schools to take specific steps when a student fails the school’s standards.  Those steps are to give the student one semester of warning and then deny them further aid if they are not able to achieve the standard after the warning semester,” Shipman said.

According to the new policy, at the end of each semester an evaluation is taken of students’ grades. If their cumulative GPA falls below a 2.0, they will receive one warning semester during which financial aid will be continued. If the student does not improve his or her cumulative GPA by the end of the warning semester, they will be denied financial aid for the following semester.

“The goal of the federal rules is to ensure that students who drop below the school’s standards are given adequate academic support to get back on track as soon as possible and in a manner that makes sense for the student. It may be that a student is in the wrong major or is taking the wrong combination of classes, for instance,” Shipman said.

Students who are denied financial aid are given the opportunity to make an appeal. In this case, a committee will review the student’s appeal. Appeals are granted under extreme circumstances, according to the financial aid website.

Shipman said there has been frustration all around due to the new policy, and that is because the approach is new and some questions did not have ready answers.

Students’ reactions to the policy have varied.

Deaf Education senior Jessica Sloan said, “If people need money for college, they need money for college…(The new policy) is probably going to discourage a lot of students from applying for (financial aid).”

Mechanical Engineering freshman Alex Benson believes that a 2.0 is very feasible.

“If the University is investing thousands of dollars in you, I feel like the least you can do is get a 2.0.”

Pre-Veterinary freshman Kevin Finegood said he would consider being accepted into this university kind of prestigious.

“You shouldn’t be receiving thousands of dollars for your education to slack off. I mean, a 2.0, that’s less than average; we’re more than average students getting in here so you should already stay above average.”

In order to bring more understanding of the new policy, Shipman said they have posted a question and answer document on the Satisfactory Academic Progress web page, answering any questions that students may have about the new policy.

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