Each year the cost of education increases in Oregon and every year thousands of students around the state depend on the timely disbursal of financial aid checks to make ends meet.
For the second year in a row, however, Portland State University students have had to rely on their parents, savings or credit lines to pay tuition, rent and grocery bills. For the second year in a row, PSU is having a hard time keeping up with the huge surge of students requiring aid in the fall.
Last year, PSU administrators affirmed that the problems within Financial Aid – a lack of staff due to early retirement and a reorganization that left the office of Financial Aid in shambles – would not cause problems with disbursement. When it was clear that checks were being delayed, students were told that the problem would be solved quickly.
Now it seems the same problems have returned. Students are waiting in long lines, awards are being lost and confusion is the norm.
The university recently unveiled a plan to have financial aid money be transferred to students via a small company on the East Coast, Higher One. We’re hearing the same message about this change as we’ve heard in the past: don’t worry, things will work out.
Experience says otherwise.
Whatever has happened to the financial aid system must be corrected before any major overhaul of the system takes place. Access to financial aid money is, for many, the key to education.
The question on the mind of many students right now: who lost the keys?