Crazy for Signing: New Policy for Financial Aid This Semester
Housatonic started the fall 2014 semester with a few different policies, including the Financial Aid Audit. This new policy forced students to sign the class roster at least once before September 12 for Monday-Friday classes and September 14 for weekends; this would tell the financial aid office which students never showed up, and which ones did.
Since the first day of school the most common sentences in all classrooms were “Don’t forget to sign the roster” and “If you don’t sign before september 10th you’ll be kicked out of your classes, and your financial aid will be taken away.” Since professors had to remember every single student, the Acting Academic Dean Rebecca Adams and other staff had to visit classes to enforce the policy.
Students just needed to sign the roster once before the deadline every class they take in order for them to continue being registered for the class and to keep their financial aid from the government. If they do sign, then professors at the end of the process will state that the student showed up to the class, and the student will be ready to keep their semester going with no problem.
Adams explained that the process is to keep record of the students that never show up to school, but still get financial aid. “We were asked to provide this information to the federal government in regard to our receipt of Title IV financial aid.”
Adams said that it was a “hectic thing to do,” but they needed to find the way to tell all students that they needed to sign for their good sake.
Some professors stated that that this process was a really complex and tiring one, but it helps to see which students are actually going to class.
English professor Catherine Barna understands that the problem is going on, but she wonders “how do you make individuals responsible for their own education? Especially, when they have not been for 18 years?” She says it’s important to take students’ attendance in every class.
History professor Kevin Boylan agreed that the policy should get going for the whole semester, since it’s not a problem that appears just at the beginning of the semester. “I believe that the Financial Aid Audit is a common-sense response to a real problem,” Boylan added.
Kirk Hughes, another English professor, explained that what they had to do, is: first, report any student that didn’t attend to class for the first three weeks. Then, if the student never showed up, said student would be “de-registered” and their financial aid would be taken away. “The entire process was mandated by the Federal funders who want to make sure HCC aid dollars are neither being stolen or mis-allocated.”
But between the students, other things were spoken.
“So if I just sign once before the 12th, then I don’t have to go back to school and I’ll get my money?” became a common question from students. In fact, that is all the new policy required.
“They’ll find a way to sign the roster and never come back,” said student Lance Edwards. “It’s a good idea to take care of their money,” he said.
Other students, depending on how the process of signing the roster went, had a different perspective about it.
Alissa Phillips, another student, said, “It’s actually a smart policy, I’ve met people that just can’t wait to get their paychecks and leave. So there has to be something done.”
The roster policy is not going to be around for the whole semester, but it certainly is for next semester, since the college administration is happy with its results. They still hasn’t received information about how many students have dropped, but they are working on easier ways to get the information about it.