RCC’s Financial Aid Department is still reeling from record-breaking enrollment numbers
By Elijah Sullivan
Kori Bieber, Dean of Student Services, believes that Rogue Community College is one of the most efficient in Oregon when it comes to processing financial aid files.
Since RCC only employs five full-time FAFSA processors, Bieber says the key is to apply early and be thorough.
“Who is Jerry Maguire’s agent? ‘Help me help you?’ That is totally applicable to financial aid,” Bieber told The Byline by email. “Students need to do their part so we can do ours.”
Applying on time has come to mean applying 6-8 weeks ahead of deadline, Bieber said.
While RCC issued over $24 million in Award Letters in 2009, only 3,122 students out of the 8,225 students who applied received aid money.
Bieber said many students abandoned the application process before their files were completed.
According to Anna Manley, RCC’s Financial Aid Director, not all students take advantage of the various types of aid offered. This is especially true in the case of “self-help” aid, such as student employment on campus and loans.
“There are scholarship options that students don’t work/plan for,” Manley told The Byline by email.
The problem appears to be three-fold. The Financial Aid department has only five full-time processors; FAFSA forms are complex and mistakes are common; and enrollment was up nearly 30 percent in fall term, according to RCC officials.
Typical problems involve a mistake on the FAFSA application as a result of student error or a missed deadline. According to Manley, students who submit their forms at the last minute are gambling with their financial aid checks — because if a student has to re-submit an application, it means being booted to the back of the line.
“We understand that many students are in really difficult financial situations,” Bieber said. “I’d hate the message to be that RCC feels burdened by students. They are why we are here.”