Officials: Issuing aid not easy

By Angela Peacock

Don’t despair, financial aid funds for eligible Mesalands Community College students is on its way.

Mesalands administration made the decision this semester to award students their aid in two separate disbursements, which Ken Brasher, director of enrollment, said was done for specific reasons.

“Once students get used to the idea of two disbursements I think they will realize it will actually be a benefit to them,” Brashear said.

In previous years, students received all their funds in one lump sum, but Brashear said the concept of two disbursements isn’t anything new.

“The truth is a lot of colleges break it up, and this way actually causes the college a lot of extra book work, but the overall advantage was worth this decision,” Brashear said.

“Sometimes in the past, some students would get all their grant money up front and not finish their courses causing problems for us but also for them since they have to pay that money back.”

Clovis Community College officials said they have the proper equipment to process financial aid applications electronically, and disbursed its Pell Grant funds in one lump sum to its estimated 1,000 eligible students. But Financial Aid Director April Dickenson said some CCC students would actually prefer the two disbursement system.

“To be honest there are arguments on both sides. Some students actually wish CCC would have two separate disbursements because it helps them keep a better balance on their funds,” Dickenson said.
Students relying on loans for assistance do receive their aid in separate disbursements.

“Part of issuing loans in two separate disbursements helps lower our rate of students who default on their loans. By issuing loans twice a semester it gives us a chance for student counseling by getting them into our office to make sure they don’t have any questions,” she said.

Financial Aid Director Jerry Klaverweiden realizes students are frustrated because they haven’t received their second financial aid disbursement this semester, but wants them to understand the behind- the-scenes process of what one individual disbursement entails.

Unlike many schools with a larger enrollment, Mesalands doesn’t have enough funds to purchase proper software to electronically process financial aid applications. To make matters more stressful the Mesalands financial aid department consists of two employees who must manually process financial aid applications for every student. The financial aid office must also research each individual student file to ensure they meet the federal requirements to be awarded their aid.

Also, school officials said until federal funds for financial aid are physically in the colleges possession they don’t have enough back-up funds in their account to issue aid checks.

“We’re way ahead of most schools our size, and we do a lot of personal one-on-one work with students to maximize their eligibility,” Klaverweiden said. “We know the economic impact financial aid has on our students and aware they need their money as quickly as possible and we’re going to get it done.”