Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Hi! I'm an example of everything your school DOESN'T do! ::waves!::

oh god. okay. so this is my saga of the Financial Aid office.

Fill out FAFSA.

Yes, acc. to the gov't, I qualify for aid.

Acc. to my school, because what I'm doing is after my Bachelor's & they don't do Bachelor's, (comm. college = Assoc., Certificate Programs, or transfer to 4 year undergrad programs, normally) I don't qualify for aid.

Appeal.

Get denied, & handed a list of private loan companies. Except it's not actually different companies, it's actually ONE loan offered by three different banks. I'm under 26, single, have no co-signer, and have been at my job less than two years. Wanna guess how my application went over? Yeah. nothing like three rejections in one day to make you feel spiffy.

Then we get to the fun point where I decide "Frell this dren, I'm making Fin. Aid do their job". Now the suck-tastic fin aid counselor had mentioned to me that their Fin. Aid Dir. was new & had only been there like, two months. Soooo...I called the school operator & went, "Oh, I'm sorry! I was looking for Financial Aid. Actually, maybe you can help me - I'm calling from the AIGA, and I just wanted to verify the contact information for your new Fin. Aid Dir. - proper spelling of his name for our mailings, direct line, things like that....thank you! You have a nice day too."

Heh. Years of working as an admin/temp/marketing assistant pays off eventually. *g*

Cut to the part where I spend a day writing a letter, deciding it sucks & having Anya & lawgeekgurl tweak it for me. Anya made it businesslike, lawgeekgurl made it ominous. I lurve my friends. I also made up an excel spreadsheet of my schedule for a normal week, & went, "Wow. I didn't even make any of that up, and I'm pretty fucking pathetic." My cohorts, being the charitable souls they are, agreed wholeheartedly to my patheticness. Thanks guys!

Anyway, so yesterday I call the FAD (heh. I've GOT to refer to him that way from now on, I just do) & leave a msg. Surprisingly enough, he actually called back. I got about halfway through explaining that while I originally was looking at grad school, I've since determined that for my professional needs, an Associate's in programming would be more applicable to my needs since a Masters' would be more theoretical than what I'm looking for right now, so I DO qualify for fin. aid because I'm doing an AS, not pre reqs for an MS. And then he begins.

"Well when the academic counselors sat down with you to go over your educational plan..."
"You mean when they printed my schedule?"
"Excuse me?"
"Have you actually, um, been to Academic Counseling?"
"Well no, I can't say that I've spent time there."
"It's rather, well, hairy over there. Bit of a crapshoot, really."
"What happened when you went?"
"Well, I walked into counseling the way your dept. told me to, & explained that I needed an Educational Plan for my fin. aid appeal paperwork. They put me into Express Counseling which is for the quickie stuff I guess. I waited about ten minutes, they called my name, I explained that I needed an Educational Plan. They said all right, & printed out a copy of the classes I took in the fall, the one that I was in for winter semester at the time, & what I was going to register for in spring, & told me I was all set."
"No no..an educational plan is supposed to be when a counselor sits down with you, helps you determine what your academic needs are in terms of your career goals."
"Yeah, nobody's ever done that. I've never seen a counselor."
"Excuse me?"
"I've never seen an academic counselor."
"Surely to qualify for certain classes, you had to sit down and bring in your transcripts. We have your transcripts from your Bachelor's right?"
"Nope."
"What?"
"Well, I had been looking to take Calc II last fall, so I ordered an official and an unofficial from my old school ahead of time & brought them in. I walked in, offered them the official copy, but they just looked at the unofficial copy and handed it back saying that was good enough. Ended up not taking Calc because none of the units I wanted were open, but other than that...no one's ever asked me about my transcripts or any of the things you've mentioned."
"What happened when you came into our department to do your appeal?"
"I sat down with ::counselor's name::, showed her what I had. Then I wrote out the appeal, had her read it over, and she sat in her office and told me 'Yes, this should be fine.' "
"How long have you been attending school here?"
"This will be my third semester."
"So at any point during this entire process has anyone ever discussed the purpose of your education with you?"
"No. And since ::counselor's name:: mentioned to me that you hadn't been there that long, I wasn't sure what your preference for things like this were, so I figured I'd just call you directly."
"Okay. You need to have an educational counseling session so that it can be determined what your needs are in terms of your course path and what classes can be used towards this degree from your Bachelor's..."
"I can't do that."
"Excuse me?"
"I'm not allowed to use the credits from my BFA towards an Associates because it's already been used for one degree, so it doesn't count towards another. Look, nobody at your school helped me, so I did it on my own. I've already talked to UCLA, USC & Cal State Northridge to determine what their programs are and what I'd have to do to go there. I have everything you're talking about done already...Would you like me to put everything together and make up a packet to leave for you when I go to campus Wed. night?"
"That would probably be best. I'll have your transcripts pulled by then from your BFA so we can see what courses will count."
"They're not there. The transcripts, that is."
"Not the official ones, but the unofficial copy that they looked at...those should be in your file."
"No, I've got those. I told you -- they looked at the unofficial copy and gave it back to me. I have a sealed official copy and the unofficial copy. The school never kept the ones I brought at all."

::note : I'm pretty sure this is the point where I heard his brain break::


....so, between that & the part where I went, "Look, I'm not looking for Fin. Aid for fun here - I'm trying to go to school, and I've got three jobs, and you guys are turning me down."... I think I gave the man a brainache. He's possibly even going to be there tonight depending on how late I get there from work so, yeah. This should be fun fun kids ... I'll keep y'all updated.

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