By Vivian Ramirez
The Financial Aid Office urges students to check their district emails for notifications of missing financial aid paperwork that may delay disbursements.
Emails may also include new information affecting AB-540 student financial aid. Some students may still be waiting for financial aid disbursement due to missing paperwork or additional information not yet submitted to the FAO.
“In terms of disbursement, we didn’t see any delays,” Financial Aid Director Lindy Fong said.
“The only difference is that normally we disburse on the second day of school; this year we just disbursed at the end of the (first) week (of school),” Fong said.
The FAO has already processed paperwork for approximately 7,000 ELAC students this semester. Other students not keeping up with their financial aid status may believe they are simply experiencing delays.
A reason for the missing paperwork is that some students submit their FAFSA after the deadline, or sometimes several months after.
“I tell people, ‘After the new year’s party, start applying,’” Fong said.
“The FAFSA application is available as of Jan. 1 and is due on March 2. We have a large group of students who apply in June, which is already late.”
However, the process doesn’t end there.
Once students fill out the FAFSA, they need to go to the FAO to check up on their status.
“We still have a large group of students that haven’t gone on the online system to complete some of the form requirements,” said Fong.
According to Fong, the FAO sends notifications to students that they have missing items. “So if a student thinks he hasn’t heard anything yet, stop by. Have them come inside and we will check their status and tell them what they’re missing.”
Some students may have shied away from the FAO due to long wait times at the beginning at the semester. As of now, wait time is approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
Still, the FAO may be subject to delays for future semesters pending the outcome of Proposition 30.
Proposition 30 is Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiative that affects most educational institutions in the state that will be subjected to a $6.5 billion cut if it doesn’t pass.
“(Proposition 30) will impact the financial aid process,” said Fong.
“If the campus doesn’t have enough funding, then staffing will be cut. If staffing is cut, processing time will take longer, so there is a domino effect.
“We only have 22 people doing the processing of 15,000 students. So that is a concern,” she said.
Checking in with the FAO is especially important to AB-540 students.
Assembly Bill 131, the second part of the California Dream Act, allows students who qualify for AB-540 to apply for the Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver.
They may also apply for Cal Grants in fall 2013. Students may begin applying on Jan. 1 for the 2013-14 school year.
Approximately 7,000 students in the Los Angeles Community College District are AB-540 students and approximately 800 are at ELAC, but figures may vary.
To benefit from AB 131, students need to fill out the Dream Act application from the ELAC financial aid website or by filling out the fee waiver in person at the FAO.
These students also need to meet the March 2 deadline. “When (students) log on to the Student Information System there should be a line with their district email address,” Fong said.
“That will help the process, reduce mailing costs and speed up the communication process. They can also go online to check their financial aid status and that will be faster.”
Visit www.elac.edu for student financial aid information.