Financial Aid stole Pell Grant?

<p>My wife and I are both students receiving the Pell Grant, but we go to different local colleges. My wife had some issues with her school's financial aid office, and it looks suspicious to me, but I don't know who to contact (can't find the Dean's email address and the financial aid office refuses to cooperate), and I'm reluctant to accuse anyone of stealing just yet.</p>

<p>My wife filed her FAFSA at the end of July, and I filed mine around mid-late August. On her FAFSA, the site wouldn't accept both members of the household as being students and generated an error, so she marked down "1" and contacted the financial aid office to correct it. They corrected it, however they erroneously marked me as a "dislocated worker" and they missed an error in her tax info. So she went back in and corrected this, which ended up changing her EFC number. This apparently delayed her Pell Grant until September, when she received $1300. Her tuition being $1820, she got a school job that paid a "gap scholarship" of $520</p>

<p>This is where things get suspicious. In October, she received a notice saying that her award was reduced to $1025. She took this notice to her school job so they could adjust her gap scholarship to make up the difference ($795). Then in December, near the end of the semester, she received another notice, this time saying that her award was raised to $2600, and that she would not receive the Pell Grant for Spring 2012. When she took this letter to her school job, the secretary used the end of the semester as an excuse for laziness and refused to take it, telling my wife to turn it in next semester. So she does. And then gets fired from her school job for turning in the letter late, and the manager accuses her of trying to steal money saying that "you shouldn't have gotten the job if you already have a Pell Grant". My wife shows her manager the evidence, and her manager claims she will investigate it, but then runs off to some vacation abroad; and the lazy secretary now just tells my wife "there's nothing we can do to help you". </p>

<p>Upon confronting the financial aid office, they claimed that her Pell Grant was denied for Spring 2012 because she is "too close to graduation". </p>

<p>This is absolutely ridiculous. My wife's tax information is the exact same as mine, our graduation dates are only one term away from each other (hers is Summer, mine Fall), and I have received my full Pell Grant for both Fall '11 and Spring '12 semesters. This "too close to graduation" excuse for pulling her Spring '12 award, from what I can tell, is a steaming pile of crap. I cannot find any evidence that a student's proximity to graduation effects the Pell Grant.</p>

<p>What was her EFC for this year, how many credits has she accumulated to date, and how many credits are required for her degree program?</p>

<p>I don't know what's going on but have a couple of observations to offer until kelsmom spots this thread to give you the technical aspects:</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Your wife should not have made additional corrections to her FAFSA after the FA office had made corrections and verified her. She probably should have simply let the FA office know that she had questions/concerns about the corrections they had made and let them handle it.</p></li>
<li><p>If her Pell grant for this year went from $1300 to $2600, I don't see why you think that you're missing money simply because they said she's not eligible for Pell this semester. It appears that what they did was disburse the entire year's Pell at the end of the fall semester. If, based on her EFC, all she's entitled to is $2600 for this year then it doesn't really matter does it? </p></li>
<li><p>The employer sounds like a nutjob and the secretary is not much better. They should not be accusing students of stealing or anything else without concrete proof...I would contact the Dean about that!</p></li>
</ol>

<p>I'll have to look at her EFC again, but I believe she should have received $4000+ for the academic year. My Pell Grant was $4,100 for the academic year, with $2,050 being awarded per semester, and we both have the same tax info, so I'd be surprised if it were different.</p>

<p>The main thing here is the "too close to graduation" comment. If she was only entitled to $2600 for the entire year, surely they would have said so instead of pulling this other excuse. I'll have to ask about her credit hours.</p>

<p>Okay I took a closer look at her info. Her estimated Pell Grant amount was $4,400 for the academic year. I realize that's only an estimation, but it does mention "academic year". Her letters from the financial aid office only show funds for Fall '11, not Spring '12. </p>

<p>As for credit hours, she has 18 more credits than she needs to graduate, however she has changed majors twice. Changing majors is common for college students and I'd be surprised if that's the reason for not being awarded the Pell Grant for the Spring semester.</p>

<p>my understanding is that Pell pays for up to 4 academic years. If she has been receiving the Pell Grant her entire college career, she more than likely has expired on time (and $$). 18 extra credit hours is close to a semester of course of work, and major change or not, she is probably on the hook for the last quarter or two. Pell can't just pay for changed minds and lifelong college students. They have to set a limit to control the program.</p>

<p>Side note...her boss sounds wacky.</p>

<p>I don't have time right now (lunch almost done) --- but will review the info and provide guidance later tonight.</p>

<p>
[quote]
my understanding is that Pell pays for up to 4 academic years. If she has been receiving the Pell Grant her entire college career, she more than likely has expired on time (and $$).

[/quote]
</p>

<p>She has not previously received the Pell Grant (or the Hope Scholarship); this is her first year applying for FAFSA and her first year of receiving the Pell Grant. She changed majors before applying for FAFSA.</p>

<p>First of all ... your wife will not lose her Pell grant in the end IF she is eligible to receive it. The aid office is probably pulling it back because they see that either 1) she may receive her degree at the end of this term, based on the number of credits she has, and they don't want to give her Pell if she continues to take classes beyond the point at which she has earned her degree (yes, it happens!) or 2) she is close to earning credits in excess of the 150% or exceeding the allowable maximum timeframe for her degree - in which case she would be in vioation of SAP rules & therefore no longer eligible for aid.</p>

<p>Your might wish to check her attitude if it is like yours, then request to speak with a manager in the office. She should calmly and politely explain what has happened, providing copies of the emails she has received. The manager can either straighten out the problem, or explain why your wife's aid is currently in limbo.</p>

<p>Managing the Pell program is a big deal, as awarding Pell when it should not be awarded can result in fines. Schools have to do everything they can to safeguard against paying out Pell in error, and this can sometimes inconvenience individual students. In the end, though, if she is eligible she will receive her award.</p>

<p>
[quote]
2) she is close to earning credits in excess of the 150% or exceeding the allowable maximum timeframe for her degree - in which case she would be in vioation of SAP rules & therefore no longer eligible for aid.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>She hasn't reached "in excess of 150%" credits, so the only possibility could be time frame. What is the maximum time frame?</p>

<p>
[quote]
Your might wish to check her attitude if it is like yours, then request to speak with a manager in the office. She should calmly and politely explain what has happened, providing copies of the emails she has received. The manager can either straighten out the problem, or explain why your wife's aid is currently in limbo.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>We have been trying to reach the financial aid director for the past few days, however she is never in her office. Ever. At this point I'm just thinking about forgetting the Pell Grant issue and complaining about people not doing their jobs.</p>

<p>SAP rules vary from school to school, although they all are regulated by federal rules governing things like completion, pace, and total number of credits. Pace is the time it takes to complete a program. Check the school's website for information specific to your school.</p>

<p>Please understand that her financial aid director may very well be doing her job ... it's just that you do not realize how overwhelming her job is. While your wife is frustrated, she will get much better results if she is calm, cool, and collected. She needs to insist on an appointment, but she can do this in a polite manner. Trust me, this will get her in faster than if she is not so nice. Those who do not understand what is involved in administering financial aid too often think the staff is being lazy ... when in fact, they are working their hind ends off.</p>

<p>The staff at the financial aid office at my school are indeed working their ends off. The staff at her school prefer to socialize with one another and avoid doing their job at all costs. The website doesn't even give me information--not even the financial aid director's email address, and due to the laziness of the other employees we're having difficulties setting an appointment.</p>

<p>As for the SAP rules, it still doesn't make sense. I have been in school longer than she has (by a year), and I still have my Pell Grant. </p>

<p>Right now she's not frustrated. She's depressed because no one at the school will bother to help explain or rectify the situation.</p>

<p>What about her department? Does anyone there have a pal in financial aid who can look into this for her?</p>

<p>Is this a public school??!! What a disgrace, if what you say is true.</p>

<p>Contact the Dean of Students. If there is an ombudsman, contact him/her. She deserves to be assisted. </p>

<p>If you PM the school's name to me, I can see if I can figure out who she should see next.</p>