OneStop’s Lack Of Transparency Risk Enrollment For Students

Jordan Coll/ News Director

Saralie Salomon and other FIU students thought financial aid would cover their classes this semester. Now, they are told it won’t, a week before classes start.

For the past three years, Salomon, a senior majoring in international relations, received financial aid and made corrections to her free application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). 

Students send the application to Federal Student Aid, a department ran by the U.S. Department of Education.

OneStop is the office that allocates FIU student aid provided by the federal government.

Salomon filled out her application early March and it was successfully processed Aug. 2.  She received an email on Aug.18, stating her aid was rejected and she was responsible for making the appropriate adjustments.

Screenshot of Saralie Salomon application processed successfully on Aug. 2
Screenshot of Saralie Salomon application rejected on Aug. 18

After speaking with a representative at OneStop asking why the email was sent a week before the semester started, Salomon was told it should have been sent out weeks before. 

Francisco Valines, Director of the FIU Financial Aid told PatherNOW the department has not seen any issues with FASFA applications.

“Our processing and aid disbursements are on par with last year at this time,” said Valines.

“With over 40,000 students on aid, sometimes there are issues that we address individually as they come up.”

Issues with SAT and ACT testing have made it difficult for students to apply for other student scholarships grant programs such as Bright Futures.

But Salomon is not surprised by the lack of transparency of OneStop and the disbursement of financial aid to students’.

“I have several friends that were also rejected for financial aid and have no clue what to do now with their classes this semester,” Salomon.

In addition to this, she was told to fill out a corrections form, which OneStop did not inform her when she applied. 

“Essentially I was told by OneStop that I would not be awarded aid until I filled out the corrections form,” said Salomon. “They pretty much told me it was my fault.”

Salomon was told that if she did not pay a student installment fee of $1,273.53 she would lose all her fall classes. She paid the amount out of pocket but still has to make a second payment of $3,760.59 to cover her entire tuition.

Even though she reapplied by filling out the corrections form, OneStop could not guarantee she would receive financial aid this semester.

Delayed OneStop emails have left students in a state of limbo on how to finance their classes this semester. Some simply can’t afford to pay their courses out of pocket and rely on financial aid to cover their tuition costs.

“OneStop waited a week before school started to tell me that I was not eligible for aid…if it’s something that can be resolved, inform students a month before classes start, not a week,” said Salomon.

Rudolph Rodriguez, a hospitality and management senior, was only awarded $2,385 of his $3,055. He needs to pay the remainder of $670 by Sept 1st.

Students having an issue with the amount awarded should take it up to their institutions as they are in charge of distributing funds.

“I truly can’t afford to pay for school,” said Rodriguez who has received financial aid during his last year at FIU. “When I checked for my aid this semester I noticed it was drastically smaller and I usually get the full amount to cover my classes.” 

After calling financial aid eight times and having his calls dropped, he felt OneStop brushed him off until he finally connected with a representative.

He was told by OneStop to call the Federal Student Aid department to see if they could reinstate his application. 

The process could take up to 30 days.

“I was never notified that I had to pay this fee at all,” said Rodriguez. “The fact that I found this out a week right before classes start puts me in a very risky situation.”

In addition to financial aid, Rodriguez was also denied Expected Family Contribution (EFC), a federal grant given to students based on household income, to cover semester expenses for $1,500. 

According to Rodriguez, Federal Student Aid never explained the reduction in his financial aid or the cancelation of his EFC.

Rodriguez plans on applying for a student loan of $2,000 to cover the remainder of his tuition and semester expenses. 

“It’s aggravating,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve worked so hard to get where I am right now and I’m close to graduating, to only now to be thrown this hurdle that I don’t even know how I’m going to get over it.”

Shaylin Jacobs who pursues a graduate program in forensic science was under the impression she was approved for financial aid. Turns out, she wasn’t.

She applied for aid on Aug. 15 and was successfully processed three days later. When she called to confirm with Onestop, they said they didn’t have her application. 

“I have $6,000 that is due for my masters by Sept.1 and now I am told that OneStop never received my application,” said Jacobs. “Now, I am in a situation where it’s like do I wait or just take out a personal loan from a credit card, which is not ideal.”

She is also concerned with the status of her in-state tuition as she plans on moving back to Connecticut where she is originally from.

“I was making plans, making moves and this whole situation with financial aid just halted everything putting me in a very stressful situation,” said Jacobs. “I was never even notified through email about this and now I have no clue what to do.”

OneStop’s delay with financial aid risks student enrollment and is costing students thousands of dollars.

“This situation is just a very stressful one and I just have no idea what to do,” said Jacobs.

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