Financial Aid Fiasco and a Frozen Girl on the Porch

Back in the day I wrote about how, when I was hired to work on campus, a tool they use called E-Verify flagged my social security number due to my name/gender not matching. I'd had it all legally changed in all other ways (birth certificate, I.D., etc.) but not federally yet (I can't legally change it, rendering my local gender 'male' and my federal gender 'female'). This didn't just end up impacting my campus job, but also my financial aid. I received a notice from my school that I had to go through a re-verification process, giving them my new social security card, filling out paperwork again, tracking down my 2009 W-2 and giving it to them again, and so on.

In addition to this whole fiasco, when I initially received my financial aid package at the beginning of this semester I worked out a 10-month payment plan with Student Account Services for the remainder that loans and scholarships didn't cover. Yet, due to this whole E-Verify flagged mismatch situation, plus how financial aid and student account services apparently don't communicate with one another, I received a letter from them saying that I had now faltered on my payments and that 4,000+ would be due, in full, by January 1st, 2011. A "HOLD" was placed on my account (and still is), notifying me that I would not be able to register for classes next semester or transfer my credits/grades to any other institutions until the $4,000+ had been paid.

This caused me to spiral into a mopey state of semi-despair. I felt disappointed in myself for some, no matter how good I do in school money will somehow doom me to fail reason. I couldn't shake the knot in my gut all night, so I finally went to bed and woke up feeling better. That morning (about a week ago) I immediately called Student Account Services. Low and behold, I was told that I should "resolve things with financial aid" and report their feedback to student account services. So I decided to ignore the scary letter and the whole situation and to just make my 10-month plan payment as usual, so at least I'd have that going for me once things will resolve - hopefully.

I never heard back from Financial Aid last week about meeting with them, so I'll bumble in there Monday morning.

A few days ago I received another letter in the mail from my school, informing me that my "Stafford Loan and/or Perkins Loan funds have been applied to [my] tuition account...", and that now instead of $4,000+, I owe the original $2,000'ish sum. The letter included a 5-month payment plan option, which confuses me because I'm already on a 10-month payment plan. And then, two days ago I received another letter saying that the "Total amount due from student" ='s 2,132.00- -- what does the negative sign mean??

So in conclusion, I'm confused. The whole cost of education in the United States headache sucks, and I'll just go hassle people left and right, back and forth as much as possible Monday.

In the very near future here come much-dreaded, anxiety-inducing finals. Ew.

And on to the frozen porch girl

This morning I wandered out to walk my little cat, Theseus Arkadash. We discovered a bizarre sight on the porch - a shivering young woman, with two purses and a red hoodie on. Caught off-guard, I asked, "Oh, wow, it's cold out here, isn't it?". She didn't immediately respond, so I quickly brought Theseus inside and told my dad, who was just putting his jacket on, "There's a girl out on our porch frozen and shivering." Also caught off-guard, he replied, "What?", and I repeated myself. Still confused, he walked outside and there she was, young woman all frozen.

I set Theseus down and walked out to the porch to find my dad comforting her, asking if she was okay and if she needed a ride anywhere. She told us that she was with her boyfriend earlier that morning in his car, on their way to his parent's place in our neighborhood. According to her, he got upset and violent, so she ran from the car and had been hiding behind our home for a few hours, terrified that he'd find her.

My dad grabbed her a coat, I grabbed our pup, and we asked if she wanted to get coffee with us before going wherever she needed to go. She did. So we all headed to the car, turned the heat on. The second we got to the cafe she went directly to the woman's single-stall restroom. We ordered drinks and got her a plain, hot coffee (having no idea what she wanted, if anything), and sat down. After 15 minutes she still hadn't emerged from the bathroom, so I knocked to check on her. "I'm okay!", she said. After another 15 or so minutes, my dad went to check on her - and again, she said she was doing fine.

I don't know how long she was in there, but I went to check on her again and she, at long last, emerged from the bathroom. She sat with us, tasted her coffee, got bitter face. Poured sugar into it, and my pops asked what she usually preferred. Cappuccino, she said. So he got her one, and also two muffins - poppyseed and chocolate.

Then she went out for a smoke, came back in, ate her muffins, talked about wanting to get her materials back from her boyfriend, ... throughout, we talked about maybe taking her downtown to the YWCA. She didn't seem happy about the idea, commenting that she didn't "like authority figures". And, shortly thereafter, she grabbed her purse and went back to the bathrooms. During that time I took Gany on a walk near the cafe to a little snow-covered field, where he found a big stick and frolicked around with it.

By the time she was done in the bathroom, we had been at the cafe for almost three hours. My dad brought up the idea again of taking her downtown where she could at least stay warm in the library for a bit, or have access to the YWCA or other resources - but, again, she wasn't interested. She asked if we could take her to her aunt's place.

On the way there she had a really hard time staying awake. We took her to her aunt, who reluctantly took her in. So sad.

It really pains me to see situations like that. I'm pretty confident that she was high, and if she didn't just happen to hide by our home, if we hadn't woken up as early as we had, and if we hadn't been leaving at just that moment, there's a great likelihood that she would've stayed there and fallen asleep. And it was FREEZING.

But for now, this time, she is okay.

4 comments:

  1. it's alarming when an all A's and B's college student can't figure out a statement from the financial aid office. my paper work to get in/funded was definitely more difficult than any of my class word thus far. and your paperwork sounds awful compared to mine. ick!

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  2. No shit! It's insane. It can, however, through a lot of walking back and forth between Student Account Services and Financial Aid be deciphered for me. Somewhat. ;]

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  3. Make sure to get all things in writing. Payment plans, we'll work with you plans. EVERYTHING. I hate when people say this to me after the fact. Just save everything.

    That's sad about the girl. She sounds like she might have been shooting up in the bathroom, especialy with the can't stay awake after. Very sad I hope she finds help.

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  4. Erin: It was way sad. I hope she does tap in to whatever help she can to get out of the situation she's in. And yes, definitely saving everything! I went in to the Student Account Services earlier today and they were telling me that, for some mysterious reason, a couple of loans were NOT applied to my Fall semester - but have been applied to my Spring. Something another confusing blah blah. I have a meeting with Financial Aid tomorrow at 9am. Wee!

    ReplyDelete

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