Monday, January 7, 2013

Crimson Tapeworms, Attack!

From the email of Coyote, as of this week:

Coyote,
I'm sorry for this news - I was able to find the email where we had asked this quesition - see below.   That seems to be what the notice you received is referring too.  I'm afraid my Financial aid knowledge is limited so I'm not sure what is going on here.

We are all back tomorrow - Wednesday.  It will be a crazy day but hopfully you can talk to someone there. 

Let me know if you have trouble connecting with them  - or also, what you find out.  I am curious.

Ms. Salvation
WU Councilor”

The question involved was my asking if a rephrasal of a rule in the SAP would be used to destroy my Financial Aid.  The new rule changed the limit from a set number of hours (72) to a percentage of the hours required to complete one's chosen program (150%), but was otherwise intact in spirit and intent.  I was over the limit previously, but my appeal regarding my old GPA had allegedly allowed me to continue regardless.  So, being the suspicious mammal that I am, I had actually asked some time ago: would such a minor change eliminate my appeal's effects completely?

The letter from Ms. Savagehenry in Financial Aid that I had received then, and which was attached to Ms. Savior's email now, indicated that, and I quote,

 “. . . while you are under an appeal approval, you cannot have any withdrawals, incompletes, or grades of F.  If the semester GPA is a 2.0 or better, then you would remain financial aid eligible as long as there were no W’s, I’s, or F’s.

The day that the WU campus closed for winter break, they had sent out the letter that I’ve reproduced elsewhere.  Suffice to say, it said that they were taking away my Financial Aid (again), and had the gall to chide me for somehow not living up to my end of the bargain.  So the day the offices opened I was there, hacking my way through the jungle of red tape as best I could, braving their red tapeworms with my little machete. 

The Lurker Below awaits.

It is amazing just how rude people can be in an office setting.  On both sides of the desk, point of fact.  On a positive note, there were enough people pleasantly surprised by courtesy that several times I found allies when I had expected none.  On the down side, far more often I found that, time and time again, I had to be the one grown-up in a childish situation.  And through it all: here’s this slip, here’s that form, make these printouts, oh, we don’t need that, who told you to print that, and on, and on, and on.


But then, a miracle happened.

At the very end of the series of lines and forms and needless printouts, I was able to talk, not with just any councilor, but with the fine young lady who has been working with me through all this, almost since the beginning.  And if you think I was put out, Ms. Salvation was livid.

It turns out that I am allowed an appeal, because this SNAFU came from a different department than the last one.  I wasn't denied FA because of anything to do with my grades, but because, sure enough, I was over the new Federal Limit on hours.  At least this time they weren't trying to claim the rules had never changed. 

As an aside, judging by the crowds and the stress level there that day, it wasn’t the only change – and I was far from the only one being shafted.  Apparently, the Federales have been changing things around to make it harder to qualify for Federal Aid in education, to cover for the slashes they’ve been making in funding education in the first place.


Brilliant.

So, writing an appeal.  Fine.  This I can do.  Part of this appeal, however, involved writing out every single class and class designation, in order, that I will be taking throughout the rest my time at Wossamotta U. 

My councilor is magnificent, and she helped me assemble this.  Almost everything I’ve taken counts towards the base requirements for both my Associates’ degrees, so of the almost sixty hours left to qualify for a degree almost fifty hours are electives.  We chose all the remaining electives from things that would count towards my Bachelor’s degree in Psych.

“Hey, this is a really good list,” I said.  “May I make a copy of this?”

I am the death of trees.

The Lorax: not on speaking terms with Coyote since 2012.

Attached to this was my appeal letter, which more-or-less said the following:

“Good people,

From 1989 to 1992, I attended Wossamotta U strictly for the purpose of staying on my parents’ insurance.  I was suffering chronic health problems at the time, and my grades during that period reflect this.  However, that was twenty years ago.  Since my return to Wossamotta, My semester GPA has consistently been suitable for placement on the Dean’s List (above 3.5). 

After my first return semester, I was placed on Academic Probation and Financial Suspension.  My “successful” appeal removed the FS but kept me on AP, for reasons that have never been made clear.  Now, having completed my second return semester, I have been denied all Financial Aid because the number of classes taken from 1989 to 1992, when added to my recent semesters, exceeds the new SAP policy.

I therefore am asking you to allow me the next four semesters to complete my education here and gain the degrees I have chosen, becoming a Wossamotta University alumnus in good standing.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter,

--Coyote Kishpaugh.”

At this time, they had the rest of that day (Wednesday), Thursday, Friday, and Monday to review my case.  I was hoping my getting everything in quickly would help.  After all, I turned my paperwork in as soon as their system would allow (the 2nd of January). 

But payments in full are due on Monday the 7th.  Five days is not a long time in an office, especially when they span a weekend.

The next day, Thursday, I received the following email.  While I had sent the previous letter some time ago, she no doubt gets a lot of letters, and she had been on vacation.

Good morning,

As you probably know, our office has been a bit crazy busy since we opened this week.  I was not able to get to this email any earlier and for that I apologize. I see that you have turned in your SAP appeal for exceeding the maximum time frame allowed.  The appeal will be reviewed within a few weeks, and if approved, your financial aid award will be reinstated.  The maximum time frame is a federal regulation that all schools are required to follow.

I also want to let you know that due to the appeal, your financial aid award has been cancelled.  The payment deadline is Monday, Jan. 7, at 5 pm.  If you do not pay your tuition in full or sign up for the payment plan, then your classes would most likely be dropped for non-payment that evening.  If that happens, you can register again starting at 12.01 am on the 8th.  I do hope that you are able to make arrangements so your classes won’t be dropped, or if they are, enroll again as soon as possible.

Contact me if you have questions.

Sincerely,

Marsha Savagehenry
Wossamotta University
Financial Aid Counselor”

This brings us to their Payment Plan.  I have no money even for that.  I considered arranging to be on it anyway, since first payment is well after I would have access to my Student Loans.  And, assuming that my appeal went through and was approved, that would allow me to keep my classes.  Contrariwise, if they ruled against me I’d be stuck with a college bill I couldn't pay, and cast out into the bargain.  And that would affect every form of reputation that this kind of nonsense revolves around.

"It's a sure thing, doll.  What could go wrong?"

Any gamble where you risk more than you can afford to lose, or risk any major loss based on a bureaucrat’s whims, is a Bad Gamble.  This plan would qualify under both definitions.  No payment arrangements for me, thank you.

So, right after midnight tonight, I’m re-enrolling in my classes as best as I can.  Apparently, since Financial Aid payments hit around the time classes start, that will buy me more time.  If they’re all full, perhaps I can at least find something on my previously mentioned class list, cleverly photocopied for just such an emergency. 

In the event that some chowderhead does in fact deny my Financial Aid, I’ll be spending the next few months looking into other means of paying for upcoming semesters.  Last year I couldn't get any scholarships because of their Academic Probation nonsense, and this year may be the same.  On the other hand, maybe not.  And if all else fails, there are jobs that might hire me, and other campuses I could try. 

Just because the world tells you to stop, doesn't mean that you should.


Sometime Again,
--Coyote.



(Tapeworm pics courtsey of grandmasherbs.com, rosarubicondior.blogspot.com; paperwork picture courtesy of aloneintripoli.blogspot.com;  protest picture courtsey of obrag.org; the Lorax was created by Dr. Seuss long before environmentalism was cool; Guys and Dolls photo is courtesy of tikiloungetalk.com; and Don Quixote was created by Cervantes but the picture is courtesy of donquijote.cc.  All rights reserved by those who rightfully reserve them, inclusion here is not an attempt to infringe on the rights of anyone.)

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