In spite of student concerns that this year’s batch financial aid awards were delayed, the Office of Financial Aid claims it is in fact reviewing files at a pace similar to that of years past.
After the University sent out term bills on July 1, some students who had not yet received their financial aid awards took to social media to voice their concerns. The financial aid website states that if students submitted their files before May 3, 2019, they would receive notification of their award prior to JuIy 1.
“[The situation] makes me uneasy because someone like me who doesn’t have financial stability cannot pay unexpected expenses without planning ahead of time,” said Jyot Batra ’21. “Also, I’m on Yale health coverage so opting in and out of that depends on [my financial aid award]. I don’t expect anything to be different, but you hear some horror stories with the Financial Aid Office and not having the peace of mind isn’t the best feeling in the world.”
In response to student concerns, the Yale College Council posted on Facebook on July 3 that “the [Office of Financial Aid] is more behind this year with processing students’ financial aid than they have been in previous years.” But Director of Financial Aid Scott Wallace-Juedes told the News that the office had in fact completed a higher percentage of financial aid letters than previous years as of July 3. And, as of last week, the office was 2 percent ahead of previous years.
Wallace-Juedes explained that student confusion arose because of new policy implemented by his office to push students to apply earlier. The new policy — which allowed students to apply for financial aid before March 1 in order to get a “priority response” — allowed the office to “realize nearly 350 financial aid awards by March 5,” nearly 3 months earlier than awards had been released in previous years. But it also created longer wait times for students who did not apply before March 1.
The new program is part of the office’s plans to push financial aid letters earlier in the year to give students the most possible time to plan. In years past, returning students could not receive their renewed financial aid offer until after all financial aid applications from incoming first-years had been processed — roughly around June.
When asked to respond to students who claim they applied at nearly identical dates last year and this year, Wallace-Juedes replied, “that’s because we have pushed people to apply earlier and they have, which is great news.”
“My hope is that we’ve made some big steps this first year [of the pilot program] in terms of the switch in the timeline,” said Wallace-Juedes.
Still, YCC President Kahlil Greene ’21 wrote that “affected students were generally panicked by the (lack of) aid received,” in an email to the News.
When asked about the discrepancy between YCC information and information from the Office of Financial Aid, he said “I believe the information that [Wallace-Juedes] stated should be accurate because he is the Director of Financial Aid.” Still, he added that the YCC Facebook post he authored was a “verbatim transcription” of information given to him by Yale Student Financial Services Office. He said that it appeared that “University communication channels were not coordinated.”
One student who spoke with the News on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the Office of Financial Aid said that in an informal poll they conducted, 20 first-generation, low-income students had yet to receive their aid packages and were therefore in “tricky” financial situations.
“Many other FGLI students also haven’t gotten aid so it just furthers my belief that low income students aren’t a priority for Yale,” they said.
Four students contacted by the News declined to comment to protect the privacy of their financial situations.
Wallace-Juedes confirmed in an interview with the News that if a student submitted all their files before the May 3 deadline, then they will have a financial aid award on a student’s bill before Aug. 1 — the deadline for fall-term bills.
Skakel McCooey | email@example.com