Financial Aid Office Attributes Delays to New Database System

Students sit at the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. Image courtesy of Ashley Warner via Facebook.

The UC San Diego Financial Aid and Scholarships Office released an email Thursday afternoon explaining that a newly implemented database system is causing a significant delay in disbursing financial aid awards.

Accordingly, the office has extended the Fall 2018 tuition payment deadline to October 19 for students affected by delayed financial aid.

The new system replaces 25-year-old software that the vendor will cease to support next year.

“Because of the unavoidable delays, your Fall 2018 payment is not due by the payment deadline of Friday, September 21st and you will not incur a late fee,” the email states. “The balance may be due to one or more of the following unpaid charges: tuition, registration fees, Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), housing and meals, or bookstore charges, etc.”

The director of the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, Vonda Garcia, explained that other factors also contributed to the delay: an increase in financial aid applications and the retirement of six office staff members who totaled 150 years of experience. To assist with the volume of financial aid applications, the office has hired and trained five new staff members and five temporary staff.

In the days leading up to the email announcement, wait times for students at the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office were often over an hour. Some students also took to social media to voice their frustrations over uncertainty about financial aid.

However, students who have visited the office expressed satisfaction with the way their concerns were handled. Denise R., a Revelle College student, went in stressed about her rent for the upcoming month but left with her fears assuaged.

“The representative I talked to seemed to still be getting used to navigating [a new system], and they had input some of my information in a wrong way that led to me not receiving the right type of loans,” Denise said. “Overall, going to the office led to satisfactory results. I hadn’t been able to get anything done through phone or email, but they handled the issue.”

Despite the deadline extension, other UCSD students have expressed the struggles of not yet having received their financial aid awards, which they require to meet basic needs.

Second-year transfer student Johnny Daniel Volkov said, “Basically, I am dependent on the financial aid awards. Financially, [the delay] strikes discord since I am already struggling with daily costs of living.”

In response to concerns, the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office stated that it has been processing financial aid applications as quickly as possible.

“We understand our delays may have created some angst and are doing everything possible to minimize additional impact to students,” Garcia said. “Our goal is for all students to receive aid prior to the first day of class. The Financial Aid and Scholarships Office has a student-centered, dedicated staff who are diligently working around the clock, including weekends, to ensure the remaining students receive their aid as soon as possible.”

Garcia encourages students who need additional funds for non-university costs to contact the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office and apply for a cost-free Emergency Loan.

Sylvia O is a Staff Writer for The Triton. Tajairi Neuson and Rohan Grover contributed to reporting. You can follow them on Twitter @Sylvia_MJ_O, @Tajairi, and @rohangro.