2

I’m Official, Ya’ll!

So back on this post here, I shared what I believed to be the end of an email exchange with my Financial Aid counselor, Fernando.  Much to my surprise, I heard back from him again on Tuesday:

Billie, sorry for the late reply. I was out on vacation and just came back today. Billie, call me Fernando. 🙂

Ok, you can still pick up your ID and parking decal, as far as we are concerned you are an admitted student. Registering for courses is proof of that. You should be able to get your stuff from student records.

Fernando

Hmm.  Well, that’s fascinating!

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I’ve been following TCL’s online step-by-step guide to enrolling, and it lead me to believe that I couldn’t be officially admitted or obtain my student ID or campus parking decal until after my classes were paid for.  So yesterday after work, I swung by the Admissions office and chatted a bit with the woman at the front desk.

She agreed with me that it’s ridiculous that I applied back in April for Financial Aid to begin in the Fall and still haven’t gotten my package.  I did ask her what students who haven’t received their package by the first day of class typically do, and she said sometimes they will sign up for TCL’s Student Payment Plan just to give themselves more time for their Aid to come in.

The plan costs an initial $35 to enroll in, and then you have until October 4th to pay for your Fall semester tuition (instead of having to be paid-in-full prior to the first day of the semester, August 16th).  Which I hadn’t even considered, so I’m glad to know that’s an option for me.

On the other hand, should it come down to that then I will probably have to put my books and supplies on a credit card and just pay it off as soon as my aid comes in.  But that will have to be a last resort, as it’s something I’m truly hoping to avoid. I only recently began working on repairing and rebuilding my awful credit history (look at me, adulting all over the place these days!), so the interest rate on my card is pretty fucking heinous.

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I also shared with the Admissions lady what Fernando’s email said.  She confirmed that because I’ve already registered for classes (like two months ago), I am considered enrolled and could go ahead and get my stuff.  Wait, what?!  So across the hall I went to Student Records, and handled some business.

Check it out… I’m officially a college student again, ya’ll!

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I am very excited about this!  And for real, though… I can’t wait to start using that ID card for sweet discounts around town.  (Example: There was a concert recently I thought about going to, but it was $30 full price… and only $12 for students with ID.)

As for Financial Aid, I figure I’ll give it until a couple weeks before the semester starts before I get loud again.  If I still haven’t heard anything more from my dawg Fernando by August 1st, I just might hafta to pop up in his office and introduce myself.

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2

Fight for Your Right to Studyyyyy: Part 2

Many of you replied, either here on the blog or on Facebook, with an expressed interest in seeing the reply to yesterday’s email to my Financial Aid counselor.  Well, I love my readers, so of course I am here to deliver!

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He did, in fact, respond quite expeditiously.  I had a reply email from him within 2 hours, which was quite a nice surprise given all of the trouble I’ve had otherwise thus far.

Below is his reply, followed by my own:

Billie, first let me apologize. Don’t ever feel like we are ignoring or avoiding you. I double checked to see if we received your verification paperwork and I saw them. I marked them in as received and now you should probably see on your WebAdvisor as needs review. Let me assure you the deadlines you are talking about do NOT impact you. You submitted your documents early and we will begin processing fall verification paperwork shortly. So you are all set to go with aid.

So regarding registering for classes, the verification process should NOT impact you in that process. If you’ve met all the requirements with Admissions, you should go ahead and register for classes, soon.

I hope this relieves any fears you have. Never hesitate to ask me anything. I will guide you best I can.

Fernando Islas
Financial Aid Specialist
TCL – Beaufort/New River/Hampton Campus

Hi, Mr. Islas!

Thank you so much for your quick action and response.  I’m very happy that I reached out to you, and I appreciate you handling the status of that paperwork so efficiently.

You are absolutely correct that this process has not affected my ability to register.  In fact, I actually registered for my classes two months ago, and am very eager to start in the Fall!  However, what this delay does effect, to the best of my understanding, is my ability to be officially admitted to the school, or to obtain my student ID card or parking decal.  Not to mention it’s a bit nerve-racking not knowing exactly how these classes are going to get paid for, how much I’ll need to take out in loans, when the money will arrive, etc.  That being said, I’m quite glad that at least my documents are showing a correct status now, and hopefully the ball will be rolling my way soon.

Once again, thank you so much for taking care of this for me.  I will certainly contact you if/when I have additional concerns, and I look forward to meeting you at TCL in the near future.  😊

Respectfully,
Billie Shoemaker
Student ID #xxxxxxx

So!  That’s where things stand as of now.  Still no idea when I’ll have money or be admitted, but at least now it’s quite clear in my file that I did turn in my paperwork not only on-time but quite early.  This eliminates one of my fears of it getting down to the last minute and then being told something along the lines of, “Oh, well according to our records, you never brought back blah blah blah paperwork so it’s your own fault your award package has been delayed.”

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As I mentioned in my reply, it still concerns me that award packages seem to be handed out so late, often times after the semester has already begun.  But at this point, it really is out of my hands and I just need to accept that and hope for the best, I suppose.  (And for an obsessive planner like me, that’s a pretty tall order!)

One last thing… Thanks to everybody who complimented the new cleaner, simpler layout for the blog!  Those of you who know me well in real life know that it really just made no sense what-so-ever for Billie to have a blog that wasn’t super fucking pink.

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2

Fight for Your Right to Studyyyyy: Part 1

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Yeah, I totally just nerded up the Beastie Boys with that post title, which I understand is borderline blasphemy.  #sorrynotsorry

Okay, I’m just going to say it.  Everything about enrolling at the Technical College of the Lowcountry has been great so far, but for one very important thing: It’s like pulling teeth to deal with their Financial Aid department.  I finally broke down and emailed the Financial Aid counselor who, according to the website, is supposed to be assigned to me (and also who I’ve never met or spoken with).

I know that I’ve been rather mum here about what’s been going on with all of this, but I’ve realized I’m doing myself a disservice as the entire point of this blog is to chronicle the highs and lows of going back to college.  So I figure the easiest thing to do is to just post the letter I sent tonight with names omitted (because I’m not an asshole), that way you, the reader, can get up-to-speed on what’s been going on.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts, or if you have any advice for what else I can do if this doesn’t work!

Good afternoon, xxxxxxxx!

Thank you for taking the time to read what has turned into a rather long email.  I am in need of help and I feel like I’m running out of options, so I am turning to you because (according to the TCL website) you’re to be my assigned Financial Aid counselor (due to my last name).  I sincerely hope that you can help me, since nobody else I have spoken with has had any interest in doing so.

I have big exciting plans to begin attending TCL in the Fall!  However, like most people, I will be unable to do so without Financial Aid and student loans (if only to cover books and supplies).  In mid-April of this year, I began the application and registration process, following all the steps as detailed by TCL’s Admissions office.  On April 27th, I came to TCL to take my placement tests and complete my registration for the Fall semester.  While there, I visited the Financial Aid office.  At that time I was informed that while my FAFSA had been received the day before, I still needed to complete an 17-18 Independent Verification Worksheet, as well as obtain a 2015 Tax Transcript from the IRS.

I did both of those things and brought them to the Financial Aid office on May 8th, which has been nearly 6 weeks ago now.  However, when I log into WebAdvisor and look at “My Documents,” both are still marked as Not Received.  Needless to say, this is quite concerning, as it appears as if I haven’t done my part in this process, when indeed I most certainly have.  I turned them in that day to xxxxx xxxxxxx.

About 3 weeks ago, I began calling the Financial Aid office to try to speak to somebody about this issue.  I called on 3 separate occasions, several days apart from each other.  During each of these calls there was no Financial Aid counselor available to speak to me, but I was assured that one would call or email me about this status of those documents within 24-48 hours.  Never once did I receive any return calls or emails.

On my 4th call, the young lady who was answering the phones that day placed me on hold to look into the matter (as happened on all my previous calls).  However, this time instead of being told that all of the counselors were busy, she informed me “The Financial Aid counselor told me to tell you…”  I thought it was interesting that a counselor was available this time but yet refused to speak to me.  But I digress, what was relayed to me was that “they do have your (my) documents, but they haven’t been processed yet because they are still working on packages for the Summer semester.”

Not only did this make me feel like my concerns were being completely disregarded, but this conversation occurred on May 26th… a week after the first day of summer classes.  To think that financial aid packages were still not awarded by the first day of class, when a student becomes officially financially liable  for the cost of those classes, is rather distressing should the same hold true for the Fall semester.

More importantly still, I have been keeping up with TCL’s “Important Dates” calendar for Fall 2017, and I see that June 30th is the deadline for Priority Financial Aid Processing for File Completion as well as the Student Loan Application Deadline.  With today being June 15th, and those deadlines being a mere 2 weeks from now and my documents still showing as “Not Received” in your system, I am quite worried that I may not be able to attend TCL this Fall.  Because of this hold-up, while I have been Accepted, I remain unable to be officially Admitted.

Can you please advise and/or assist me in this matter?  I would be most grateful for any assistance you can provide in resolving this issue in a timely manner.  If you prefer to speak over the phone, I can be reached during normal business hours at my office, xxx-xxx-xxxx.  Any other time, feel free to call my cell phone, xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thank you ever so much for your time and consideration.

Billie Shoemaker
Student ID #xxxxxxx