To say financial aid can be confusing is an understatement. There are now entire companies who focus solely on helping students and families fill out the FAFSA.
For students who returned to the University of Berkley this month, that confusion was in the spotlight as tons of college students waited in long lines to get answers to their financial aid questions.
Cal Student Central, which has both physical locations as well as a website to help students with their financial aid and billing questions, has been overwhelmed by students looking for help, said Carmen Ortiz, Director of CSC in a The Daily Californian report.
For the University of Berkley, the long lines are being driven by fears that students could see their enrollment canceled for not paying 20 percent of tuition fees ahead of the first day of classes. Many students still oppose the policy, which was put into place in July of 2016. “Sometimes, the wait times are really high, and if it is like 2:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. and we have 60 people, then we just do not have the volume to see everybody, realistically,” said Ortiz.
While students at Berkley may be making the news, it’s not the only school in the country where there are tons of questions about student aid. Federal financial aid is a necessity for countless students across the country but there are many complexities associated with it. Many families end up leaving lots of aid on the table simply because they do not understand the entire process.
Last January, NerdWallet pegged the amount of unclaimed free financial aid at $2.7 billion for the 2014/2015 academic year. The main reason: students did not entirely complete their FAFSAs or did not submit them at all.
According to NerdWallet, over 1.4 million high school graduates chose not to apply for federal financial aid. Of that group, NerdWallet estimates about 750 thousand of them would have been eligible for a Pell Grant – or $1,861 of free money, on average.
Author: Dave Rathmanner
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