Student Enrollment Increase Overpowers the Financial Aid Office

By Colleen Maidhof

Once a new semester approaches students who are in desperate need of the financial aid office can only shutter from the well-known sight of the generously long line that leads to it. Cramped mobs of students wrap around the financial aid office for questions, approval of student loans, and financial Aid applications that need to be dealt with before the new semester begins. The question is what causes such a frustratingly long line?

Suffolk County Community College has more students flowing in than ever due to the current position of the US economy. An increase of around 450 students this semester is making the college experience at Suffolk troublesome for many. With such large quantities of students not only is there a deficiency of parking spots and classroom space, but the lines leading to financial aid and registrar have also exceeded their limit. Lines to financial aid have become so monstrous that they have ascended out into the hallways.

One could compare this wait to a wait at the DMV’s. After waiting a good half an hour on the line to the financial aid office the impatient are likely to walk out the door with displeased looks in frustration. Unfortunately situations like impatient students making a run for it is what you hope for while waiting on the line. To avoid the ultimate test of your patience, some questions you may have can be answered on the phone and on the SCCC website. However; the information that can be acquired over the phone is only general information. On the website in the financial aid section, you can browse through frequently asked questions by other students that have answers provided. These two alternatives can be helpful to some, but the limited information that you can acquire from these alternatives cannot replace an actual person knowledgeable of financial aid information that you should have easy access to. 

Students who are unaware of the chaos of financial aid services can run into a dead end when it comes to being able to afford their classes, textbooks, and class expenses for their upcoming semester. Students who are unable to afford their upcoming semester because of their lack of financial aid may be forced to drop out, to beg family members and friends for money, or they may need to make some extreme sacrifices especially with the increased tuition.

With the increased enrollment of students not only is it making student life more difficult, it is making the very few financial aid administrators lives a living nightmare. They are beyond outnumbered by students. It is hundreds against a handful. They are constantly getting attitudes by frustrated students, complaints, phone calls, and plus they are drowning in paperwork that needs to be processed on a timely basis. The wait for student loans has also increased a good amount. Loans can take up to one month to be processed fully due to student growth that needs them and the overwhelmed financial aid administration. That is an intense wait for those who need of a loan right away.

It is easy to blame the US economy these days on almost anything and everything. Sure SCCC has more students enrolled, but the wait for financial aid that seems to take forever and a day is not the population of student fault alone. The problem is clearly the lack of financial aid administration.

When you walk to the financial aid office you can see that the staff members in that department are few in number. To balance out the enrollment increase, staff members also need to increase, so that they work more quickly and more efficiently. More workers will prevent forms from piling up and student lines from wrapping around the building. The solution is pretty simple. It is hard to believe it hasn’t been done yet. The addition of one more staff member could make a difference for everyone.

Something desperately needs to be done to end this frustration. If staff members do not increase something else needs to be done to organize the monster of a line of students. It needs to be done for everyone’s well-being, and for safety purposes. Too many students in a cramped area is a disaster waiting to happen.

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