In the middle of midterm week, Wharton freshman Hannah Stulberg has a few things on her mind: her econ exam, her upcoming status report and the “sudden cancellation” of her loan by Penn’s Student Financial Services .
Last week, some students, including Stulberg, received an email informing them that their loans had been canceled. The reason for the cancellation was the loan “[had] not yet disbursed due to a missing Master Promissory Note and incomplete Loan Entrance Counseling.”
Stulberg and Wharton freshman David Cahn , who is a contributing writer for the Daily Pennsylvanian, both said that this email was the only notice they received this school year about the unfulfilled requirements. Cahn, an Undergraduate Assembly representative, felt that more advanced notice should have been given and is meeting with SFS on Friday to “reach a more equitable solution.”
I n order to receive funds from a loan, students must complete a Master Promissory Note — a form that states a student intends to pay back the money borrowed — and attend entrance loan counseling, a system where students meet with a representative from SFS . Some students are also randomly selected by the federal Department of Education to go through a verification process.
According to Sharon Pepe, Senior Director of Credit Services in Student Registration and Financial Services , no loans would be canceled solely because of a failure to complete documents. The loans were canceled because students have to pay a marginally higher origination fee for the loan after Oct. 1, per federal regulations, and therefore have to reapply.
Pepe said that SFS “had to cancel the first loan and start over again.” She said her office will be filling out new applications for students with canceled loans and the students will have to complete all the outstanding requirements. She expects that all students who need to borrow money will be able to do so and this change will not affect their financial situation .
In 2011, sequestration rules were put into place so the Department of Education controls spending by very slightly increasing the origination fee for direct loans each October. Pepe said the origination fee increased from 1.072 percent of the loan to 1.073 percent of the loan, a change that is less than a dollar more for most students.
Cahn and Stulberg both expressed their discontent with the communication by SFS. When she first received the email, Stulberg was not sure if she would get th e money back and was upset that SFS had not communicated with her sooner.
“They need to improve relationship with students on financial aid and [their] organizational system in general,” Stulberg said. Canceling loans in the middle of midterm week, Stulberg said, goes directly against the mental health policies changes Penn President Amy Gutmann is trying to implement .
Pepe and Marlene Bruno, communications director of Student Registration Services and SFS , both suggested that students visit the SFS website and the Penn Loan system, which is available 24/7, to make an appointment with their assistant director or attend walk-in hours.
Stulberg said that when she made an appointment with her assistant director about another issue earlier this year, she had to wait for almost three weeks, and the walk-in hours conflict with her classes.
“It’s absolutely [SFS’s] job to reach out to us,” she said. “I am 19 years old, I don’t have the resources to navigate Penn’s financial aid system.”Comments powered by Disqus
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