Dealing with the cuts

Sophomore Jenevieve Jackson, like many other students, works hard so that she can afford to go to college away from her Orlando home.

Jackson has a student loan, but it doesn’t resolve all of her financial problems. Recently, she said she was surprised to learn that her loan was being disbursed in two payments instead of a single lump sum, as it had been before.

Under the Higher Education Act of 1965, students are provided exemptions to the multiple disbursement requirement for low-default-rate schools in the Federal Family Education Loan Program. However, these exceptions expired Sept. 30. Therefore, all Federal Stafford and Federal Parent loans certified on or after Oct. 1, will be disbursed in two increments of equal amounts.

The first disbursement occurred in January, and the second one will take place March 5. Additionally, the lender cannot release loans for first-term freshman borrowers until the 30th day of the first month in the first term enrolled.

Jackson said that it would be much more convenient if loans were disbursed at one time.

“It would be better if they did it all at one time because then you don’t have to deal with the anxiety of waiting for the check that you’re supposed to get before your housing or tuition deadline,” she said.

Jackson added that she would like someone to sit and explain tuition distribution to her because sometimes loan information is sent to her permanent address, rather than her address at USF.

Leonard Gude, director for financial aid at USF, said there have been some complaints regarding disbursements, though others have told him that they actually like the new disbursement procedures.

“I think it negatively impacts students,” Gude said.

He said the disbursements have doubled the workload for the staff at the office and said the Office of Financial Aid had no control over the issue.

Gude said the bill that was supposed to renew Section 428G (a)(3) and (b)(1) but was killed in 2002. The bill was largely expected to pass in the Florida State House of Representatives but did not, due in large to opposition from House Democrats.

To those who struggle financially, Gude suggested taking out a short-term loan. In addition, he said that concerned students should encourage the Florida Legislature to pass bill HR-12, a revision that would allow loans to be disbursed in one increment at the beginning of the semester.

With rising tuition costs and the cutting back on the number of Bright Futures scholarships awarded and more students are becoming dependent on loans to help them with their financial situation in college. Scholarships, such as the USF Scholarship and others found on and other scholarship Web sites, are helpful, but they are often difficult to obtain because of the number of applications, Gude said.

The Federal Stafford Loan is a cooperative effort among lending institutions, educational institutions and guarantee agencies on behalf of the federal government. The lender provides the loan funds, and the schools determine the amount of the loan, the student’s eligibility and loan period, and the guarantee agencies ensure the repayment of the loan in the event of borrower’s default, disability or death. A Federal Parent Loan is a loan for natural or adoptive parents of dependent students to make college financing more flexible and affordable.

Tomorrow, the Office of Financial Aid will hold “Financial Aid Tuesday” to encourage students to register for government aid. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the staff at the office will review the steps that must be completed to register for financial aid.

Contact Whitney Meersat