The frustrations of a college student seem to increase with every passing day, but 8 a.m. classes and five-page papers are the least of our troubles. Most students are concerned with money, especially if they have a financial hold on their account.
It has been brought to many students’ attention that their account summaries are significantly higher than previous semester’s–the question is, why?
Student Services at Wilkes University, and college institutions all over the state, are still waiting for the Pennsylvania State Budget to be passed in Harrisburg. Without a budget, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) grants cannot be dispersed, leaving students distraught and worried for the future.
A budget was approved by the Senate earlier this summer, but on June 30, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the $30.2 billion budget bill. Since then, there has not been an agreement and students eligible for PHEAA are impatiently waiting for their account summaries to decrease.
Republicans proposed a compromise for the bill the last week of August, but it is under review. On Sept. 29, the Republican majority passed an $11 billion short-term spending plan to cover four months of funding, but Tom Wolf vetoed their advance once again. When will politicians stop dancing around and finally address the immediate problems at hand?
Student Services can only make estimations for PHEAA grants based on the numbers from the previous fiscal year, but they will not know for sure until the budget is passed. Schools stay in contact with PHEAA, receiving limited information and empty promises. Colleges everywhere can only attempt to comfort their students during this time of uncertainty. Should students prepare for the worst outcome? With midterm exams being over, students are anxious to see their progress so far this semester, but students who have a hold on their account cannot have access to their grade reports. Academics are obviously very important, and without access to grades some, students could struggle with balancing out their studies. One class could negatively change a GPA and lots of students receive academic scholarships. Losing a scholarship would cause even more financial troubles.
Pre-registration has already begun on campus. Friends are planning to schedule classes together and advisors are guiding their students to success. Unfortunately, Wilkes University policy does not allow students with a financial hold on their account to register for classes for the next semester. If students cannot register for the appropriate classes on time, they could lose credits and fall behind on their major courses. This could force students to not graduate on time, and spend even more money towards earning a degree.
Sophomore criminology major Samie Hilenski shared her difficult experience with The Beacon.
“If PHEAA had fallen through on time, I would have only had to spend a few hundred dollars on tuition this semester. But because the bill wasn’t passed, I had to take out a substantial loan. It’s not fair because I was relying on PHEAA, and I had to take out a loan on such short notice.”
Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, could not take the same action. “I can’t get a personal loan. My parents don’t have good credit, and I need a cosigner. I’m desperately waiting for my PHEAA grant so that I can figure out what to do as soon as possible. I’m really worried about my future here at Wilkes.”
So brace yourselves classmates, and hope for the best outcome.