Communication with the financial aid office

talking with the financial aid officeWhen the dust settles and your freshman has been dropped off at school, if your college bill hasn’t been addressed, now is the time. This is something that should have been done, but sometimes getting in touch with the financial aid office is impossible!

For the last month, I have had questions about three of my childrens’ bills who attend the same university. Each have a different financial aid package, requiring certain documents to be completed by the students. Once the student is tracked down and the financial aid office is contacted, it is very easy, but getting through this step is extremely difficult. If I lived near the campus, I would go to the office, but that does not teach responsibility. I am left with making several phone calls only to receive a very polite student who can’t help me or a full voicemail box of an advisor. Despite several calls to the financial aid office, I am still trying to resolve their bills. Having been through this process before, I know what to expect, but it does not alleviate my frustrations. To expect a return phone call within the first two weeks of the students returning to campus is not something that will happen quickly. If your student goes to the financial aid office, they can take care of their student loans, but cannot address any loans that you the parent may have. Many times most things can be done on online, but only with the student’s email address, which most parents do not have access to. Constant badgering on part of the parent becomes a painful but necessary task.

Another aspect of college billing that prompts frustration is the review of the parents’ financial documents that are repeatedly submitted and somehow lost, but ultimately result in a change to the financial aid package. Copy everything you send to the university! It can be a positive change, but when it is not, the price can affect you. That has happened once on one of my student’s college bills. After another review of their financial aid packet, I thought I had the final award. I had already obtained my Parent PLUS Loan based on old information only to find out I needed to borrow more money. Getting more money was easy, but I had to pay another origination fee! Had I known this was the not the “absolute final amount,” I would have planned it differently. Unfortunately, I learned a hard lesson and until final confirmation of the awards has been made, I will wait to obtain the loan. This has saved me time, money, and a lot of frustration.

The financial aid office at your students’ college is truly there to assist parents and our students. They are incredibly busy putting together each student’s award packets. Patience and perseverance are the keys, as are using one name and email address to make the process a little smoother.


Tuition and Bills