OPINION: Financial aid not helping students in need

By Cristal Gomez

Financial aid is not helping students in need.

During times like these, financial aid isn’t fulfilling its purpose as is making students worry if they will be able to pay for their semester.

Winter session helps students obtain credits in order to graduate earlier or on time, but the money was not given to students who  needed the aid in order to get their classes.

A freshman who had just finished her first semester at ELAC decided to continue and take classes during the winter session. Nenetzin Martinez took one class and did everything that was required by financial aid to receive money.

But she only received a message from financial aid saying “Your information is processing.”

Martinez would go frequently to the Financial Aid Office to see how the process was going but had no luck.

Half way through the winter session, no financial aid had  been distributed.“If it wasn’t for my job I don’t think I would have been able to pay for any of my classes, luckily, none of the classes I took needed books.” Martinez said.

A student’s education was on the line simply because there was no aid being distributed.

Many other students went through the frustration of thinking they would be dropped from a class due to the delay.

Various students had a plan and believed things would run smoothly with financial aid.

Freshman Janelle Zamora said she pays rent, makes payments for her car and pays for her car insurance.    Zamora received assistance from the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) during the Fall semester. EOPS had given her book grants since she was taking 12 units worth of classes.

During the winter session, EOPS does not offer aid to students.

Zamora  spoke to the Financial Aid Office as well and they told her the information was still being processed.

Like Martinez, she constantly checked with the Financial Aid Office to see the progress of her application, but nothing was been given to her to assist payment of winter classes.

She was grateful to have a part time job, otherwise she would not have been able to pay for her books.

As for me, I come from a         single-parent household, where my mother has two jobs to pay for rent and everyday necessities.

When she found out there was a delay, I saw her face change because she feels fortunate that I am attending college and receiving financial aid.

But this delay meant she had to work seven days a week in order to help me.

Even now, financial aid hasn’t distributed the money to students. Some have gotten their money and others are still waiting.

An email  sent to students Feb. 8 said the money was supposed to be given to the students Feb. 6, but would now will be given out no later than Feb. 12.

This delay has caused many students to not be able to pay for books, classes and school supplies needed for the spring semester.

Students shouldn’t have to worry about the errors made by a flawed system.

It isn’t the students’ fault that a new system doesn’t work properly, so why should the financial aid of a student be affected?

The student has no say whatsoever in how the system works, if the system isn’t working, then something should be changed.

Financial aid is important to many students and many cannot afford a higher education without it.

The lack of aid disbursement is affecting not only at ELAC students, but many in Los Angeles College District.

Why not do what other states have done and have a free community college for all students who want an education?

In most states, financial aid is given in the form of scholarships that cover the remaining costs of tuition after using other needs-based grants.

Those states include Rhode Island, Tennessee, San Francisco, New York, Oregon, Arkansas, Minnesota and South Dakota.

Change the system back to how it  was to have a happy district.

There should not be barriers in higher education for those who cannot pay. Education is for everyone.

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