Article by Doria DeBartolo
Discussion of a possible petition against the 2014 change in student refund procedure has been amongst students. The procedure states that financial aid refunds are to be disbursed one day after the final drop date of each semester.
According to the UWP Financial Aid website, “financial aid will be applied to student accounts on the 2nd day of class,” and “if financial aid exceeds the balance due on a [student’s] account, a refund will be generated by the close of business on the 12th day of class.” The official procedure outline can be found on the UWP financial aid website at https://www.uwp.edu/live/offices/financialaid/Receiving-Your-Aid.cfm.
In prior years, refunds were deposited to student accounts one week before the beginning of each semester. This was to ensure that students have time and funds to purchase necessary books and supplies in preparation for the semester.
“I can’t afford to buy my books without my refund,” says a Parkside Senior. The Cashier’s office directs students with this problem to the campus bookstore, where they offer an “I.O.U.” of sorts to students who are waiting on their refund.
“It’s a lot cheaper for me to get my books elsewhere. I’m left with no options and feel conned into using this store,” says a student waiting in line at the UWP bookstore. Many students also say that the supplies they need for class are often not even sold at the University Bookstore, which sometimes causes them to fall behind in class while they wait for the money to shop elsewhere.
Bookstore employees say that often Professors do not put orders in for the supplies they require for their students. Students add that it is typical for professors to direct them to stores in the area with the most affordable prices.
Bursar Peggy Karls, who took part in decision making for the procedure change, says that the change was made “for the benefit of the students” and also claims that there have been few complaints documented regarding the issue.
Dean of students Tammy McGuckin states that “The change in the refund date was implemented to ensure that changes to a student’s course schedule during the add/drop period would be appropriately accounted for prior to the refund being processed. In many cases, students add courses or get into classes that they were previously waitlisted for which increases their tuition and fees. When refunds are distributed before these schedule changes are taken into account, students are often unaware of the additional charges, receive late fees, and subsequently have to repay some of their refunded aid to the university.” She adds that processing refunds after the add/drop period the refund amount can be more accurately calculated.
Currently the 13 UW-Colleges, Gateway, and the College of Lake County all process refunds on or after the add/drop period. Dr, McGuckin was asked whether or not students were involved in the decision making process for the change in policy and the question remains unanswered.
Student Body President Hannah Kowalczyk could not be reached in time for comment.