Add-drop deadline for aid to move up to second week

Next fall, students will only have until the end of the second week to add or drop classes before their financial aid status is locked in, which is two weeks earlier than the current policy.

Next fall, students will only have until the end of the second week to add or drop classes before their financial aid status is locked in, which is two weeks earlier than the current policy.

The financial aid department crafted the new policy that affects about 68 percent of PSU students. Currently students have until the end of the fourth week to make changes to their schedule before their enrollment status is locked in for financial aid. The number of credits a student is enrolled in after their status is locked determines how much financial aid they receive.

“It’s the same policy as the four weeks, the only change is that it’s moving to two weeks,” said Phillip Rodgers, director of student financial aid. “And by moving the policy to two weeks, it not only helps the university, but it also helps the student.”

Rodgers said the change will free up space in courses quicker and reduce the probability that students will create an outstanding balance on their Portland State account because there is a shorter window for the classes they add or drop to affect their financial aid. For example, if a student drops a class in the third week next fall–a week after their financial aid status would be locked in–they won’t be forced to pay back any aid that they no longer qualify for.

“I think for evening classes that only meet once a week it is really harsh because you only have two opportunities to know whether you want to take the class,” said senior Robin Gerig. “Really things don’t start picking up until the third week.”

For some students, having enough time to adjust to a new schedule under the upcoming changes is a concern.

“Two weeks is quick,” said sophomore Ashley Anderson. “You have to get a feel for your new schedule.”

Since fall term, ASPSU President Rudy Soto and University Affairs Director Nick Walden Poublon have met with Rodgers and Dee Wendler, assistant vice president for Finance and Administration, several times to discuss the changes to the financial aid policy.

Soto and Walden Poublon said that at first they were opposed to the changes because they had concerns the new financial aid policy would not be in the best interest of the students.

After holding numerous meetings and having negotiations with Rodgers, Soto said they have come to a common understanding and have decided that ultimately the new policy would be in the best interest of the students.

Soto and Walden Poublon said they believe the current financial aid policy hurts students in two ways.

One is that students who are registered for a class that is at maximum capacity and fail to attend are occupying a space that another student who wants to join the class could use. The second is that students are manipulating the financial aid system by enrolling in more credits than they intend to take, in order to receive more money, and then dropping classes a few weeks into the quarter.

Soto and Walden Poublon said they came to an agreement with Rodgers, that if he planned to implement the new policy, an extensive awareness campaign was necessary to inform students of the changes.

Information on the changes will be available on the main Portland State Web site, as well as the financial aid and admissions sites once the policy is completed, Rodgers said.

Another change to financial aid next year will be made to the Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, which evaluates how all applicants for state and federal student financial aid are performing academically. Under the current policy, students are reviewed after every term, where with the new policy, students would be subject to a review at the end of their academic year.

The current review process evaluates the maximum time or credit limit for completion of a degree or program of study, grade point average for PSU courses and the percentage of attempted PSU credits with passing grades. If students fail to meet the requirements, their financial aid could be lost or suspended.

“This allows students who may have had deficiencies in one term enough time to fix it before we have to review,” Rodgers said.

Soto and Walden Poublon are organizing a student advisory committee for financial aid. The plan is to form a five-person committee of students, one from each grade level, that receive financial aid. These students would look to solve issues related to financial aid and advocate for their fellow students, Soto said.

“The students really have to be committed to solving the problems and not just venting–and be willing to work together to solve issues,” he said.