Tuition troubles at Prairie View A&M?

August 19, 2008 5:01:32 PM PDT
With the new school year almost here, dozens of students at Prairie View A&M University are facing tuition troubles. A new policy has left students in the lurch, wondering if they'll be able to come up with money to pay their tuition. Ninety-six percent of the university's students rely on some form of financial aid. Unlike years past where they had till the 12th school day to have their financial aid in order, a change to the state education code now requires students to pay at least 50 percent of the tuition and fees owed up front. That, administrators say, combined with usual last minute dealings, have a number of students wondering if they'll be dropped from class.

As they waited outside the financial aid office Tuesday for their names to be called, anticipation grew.

"They were gonna drop me by Friday because the bill was due Friday," said student Cheryl Johnson.

The line is long. The patience, short.

"Very angry," said student Rochelle Holloway.

Some, like Holloway, say they weren't told by the university until last Friday that there was a problem with their financial aid.

"If somebody misses something, you should tell them before time, not a week before," she said.

The university, though, says notices were sent out in early July to all students who had not properly completed all documentation related to their requests for scholarships, grants or loans.

"Of course they're gonna tell you that," said Holloway.

The school admits to some snafus with a new computer system in use. But it maintains that a portion of the problem is students not using online tools available to them showing current account balances.

"It's very straightforward," said Prairie View A&M Provost of Financial Aid Carlos Clark. "The information is there."

Administrators say it's really the same story every year, that it has done its part in notifying students by phone, email and even a physical letter, that students need to take care of outstanding balances for tuition and fees before Friday at 5pm.

Procrastination or just wanting to talk to a real person to find out if their financial aid is in place, as so often happened in years past, this year, won't cut it.

"If the student would use the resources they have in hand, they would be well informed," said Clark.

Still , Prairie View A&M says it'll help students get things squared away all the way up until the Friday 5pm deadline. The university says it doesn't want to drop any student, that they are simply following the law.

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