By Kerri-lyn Hernandez, Editor-in Chief
Students and faculty at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) have differing opinions on whether financial aid given to students is completely fair or not. Many students think they deserve more than others or vice versa, while the financial aid office has a system they go through each semester.
While the financial aid process is routine, many students and parents become frustrated with the outcome. “We hear everything from Federal rules not being fair to the student not getting enough money … Etc,” said Jennifer Hutchinson, Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid, who has had parents call in for said reasons, but firmly believes that “the staff in the Merrill Center is really great at handling all kinds of situations and are very helpful to our students and families.”
“I think students get frustrated with the process of financial aid, which is different than being frustrated with financial aid itself,” said Jeremiah Roper, senior at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) and an employee of the UMF Financial Literacy Outreach Program (PAID), “A lot of what I hear revolves around frustrations with Refund Checks arriving later than usual, or worries about how much they will receive next year.”
“Working for PAID… has definitely raised my awareness about the process of financial aid process, and I do certainly think that the way it is managed here at Farmington is fair,” said Roper. Being a part of PAID has made Roper realize that students need to become “more aware of their loans,” which is a lot about what PAID is about.
“Aid is awarded first to the incoming students who are making decisions about which college they will attend, then transfers are notified and our continuing students hear about their aid usually in late April or in May,” said Hutchinson “Students apply for financial aid once each year using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), an online application used by all schools in the US that give out Federal.”
An interesting factor that many people’s financial aid could be based on is the family contribution part of the FAFSA process, “The FAFSA gives an Expected Family Contribution as a result of the information put on the form and then put through a Federal Formula,” said Hutchinson.
Some students see this as a problem, “I think that the financial aid at UMF should be given more proportionately based on what the student needs, not how much the parents are going to give,” said Innes Herdan, a junior at UMF, “I definitely know of students that don’t receive enough financial aid, but they get their aid based on what their parents make but they put themselves through college financially.”
Although there are many people who don’t get help from their families financially, it isn’t always a bad thing, ‘My family is completely detached from me, so I get zero help from my parents, I pay all my own bills, and for school, and work two job to do it all,” said Jenny Calden, a junior at UMF, “I’ve always gotten a lot of help [from UMF] and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of it, because I honestly would not have been able to spend four awesome years here at UMF without it.”
Even though Calden is grateful for her aid at UMF, her opinion does go hand in hand with Herdan’s in some aspects, “I know plenty of people who have to pay for college out of pocket because their parents “make enough”-and most of the time, they don’t in reality. I mean do they think that just because someone’s mom or dad makes so much per year, that they still have all that money? Because of course they don’t, it is put towards bills and living and other expenses. I think that everyone should be able to get at least some aid.”