College Students In Financial Distress Over Delayed Financial Aid Funding

College Students In Financial Distress Over Delayed Financial Aid Funding

VICTORVILLE –  Victor Valley College (VVC) students recently described the struggles that they have faced while attempting to make educational ends meet at the beginning of each term. As most college students already know, college books are becoming increasingly costly and with the authentications codes now required, used books have mostly become a thing of the past. An overwhelming amount of students shared very similar experiences about financial aid delays that created difficulties for them paying for books and other materials. Some said that the delays made it impossible for them to continue successfully in their classes, causing them to drop classes. Others were able to borrow necessary funds from family or friends.

Throughout recent years students have grown to believe that it was the college holding the funds that were already released by FAFSA. The VVC spokesman Robert Sewell told a 24/7 Headline News reporter that this belief is false and that funds are disbursed within three days of the college receiving funds. “Victor Valley college, as well as other colleges, are audited to make sure they abide by the guidelines,” said Sewell. “We would face losing out Title IV if we did not comply or did not disburse properly.” Sewell also explained that the college receives 30% upfront and remaining 70% later during the term. The 30%, if all paperwork is completed and all conditions are filled most students will receive these funds during the first week of school and the second portion approximately half way through the term. Delays happen for a number of reasons Sewell explained, most of these reasons being as individual as the students themselves.  The majority of disbursement delays are caused by a late completion of the FAFSA application or a delay in the required documents being turned in.  

There are solutions for students who face delays in receiving funds, these include the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, which permits qualified student enrollment with enrollment fees being waived. For books, there are vouchers through the Rams Bookstore. The bookstore is then reimbursed directly from the student’s Federal Pell grant. All VVC students also can board the Victor Valley Transit bus free of charge with a school ID. The Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) is also available to some students, which provides a $300 book voucher to qualifying students. Funding for EOPS comes from the State of California and is available to students who may have social, economic, educational, or language disadvantages.

Sewell said that the disbursement is split up because sometimes things do happen to cause a student to drop classes. If 100% if the funds were  disbursed and a student drops one or more classes they would have been overfunded. Since there is a time period during which students can add or drop classes, the second portion is  disbursed after that time has passed. “No college orders 100% of the money upfront,” said Sewell. “If we do it earlier and schedules change, we [Victor Valley College] would be responsible for paying this back, since the funds would come out of the following disbursement,”  Sewell said that next year, by fall the first disbursement percentage may go up from the 30% now to 40%.

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