Please help me stop flipping out about my financial aid SNAFU.
July 6, 2012 2:28 PM   Subscribe

I just received word that, due to a tiny technical error, I have to re-apply to get my Stafford loan to pay for grad school. This message was directly followed by the notice that I must pay for my tuition by Sunday night at 11:59PM or I'll be blocked out of my classes. Because it's now the weekend, no one is available to help at the financial aid office. My parents said they can float me the money until the loan clears. Should I take them up on the offer?

My tuition bill is $4200, which is not something I can pay out of pocket. My parents are more than happy to float me for the next two weeks until the loans come in, but is that a good idea? Will it be easy to pay them back with the funds the Stafford loans provide?

I'm sort of freaking out, because I'd enrolled quite early to get all the classes I wanted, so while I'm sure I'll be going to grad school no matter what this fall, I really want to take these specific classes. However, I don't want to embroil my parents in any financial liability if it'll be difficult to pay them back via with student loans.

In lieu of advice from someone at a financial aid office, what's your take?
posted by Viola to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Whenever this kind of thing happened to me (three or four times during my undergrad career) there was a delay, because the school wouldn't send me the balance they owed me (from the loans finally coming through) until the 100% withdrawal deadline (the one where you get back all your money) or whatever date corresponded to the Federal "how many people are seriously in this class" reporting date (it varied.)

I think I once ended up paying my mom and stepdad back (for a term that started mid-September) in late October. But they did get it back, eventually.
posted by SMPA at 2:32 PM on July 6, 2012

I know that in the past any excess after fees were paid were deposited directly into your checking account.
posted by wierdo at 2:33 PM on July 6, 2012

I'm a bit confused about how this is intended to work. The notice says you need to pay by Sunday night at 11:59PM, but is there anyone there on the weekend to process your payment? After all, they presumably accept a check. Do they specify exactly how you're supposed to pay them by the deadline? Perhaps they have someone at the bursar's office on the weekends you can talk to?

If you do wind up doing this, even assuming it all works out and you get the money back, it will almost certainly take more than two weeks. Personally, I would not do this unless you are comfortable accepting a gift of the $4200 tuition from your parents (and they are comfortable giving said gift), which is what you'll be doing if all goes completely haywire.

Also, is the technical error your fault or theirs?
posted by zachlipton at 2:38 PM on July 6, 2012

You can pay online, zachlipton, so even if the office is closed, the money will be accepted electronically.

The technical fault is... unclear. I took the electronic counseling course required to get the loan (and passed), but it either didn't go through or something mysterious happened. When I reapply for the Stafford loan I'll fax both the application and the proof that I was indeed certified.
posted by Viola at 2:42 PM on July 6, 2012

Check with the financial aid office's website to see if they offer short-term loans for these situations. I was able to apply and pay for classes with a loan like this that was offered interest-free if it was paid back quickly within the terms of the loan. As I recall it was cleared by computer, so may be able to be processed over the weekend.
posted by goggie at 2:43 PM on July 6, 2012

Take the money from your parents. I had the same sort of thing happen to me -- I was in my very last semester of grad school, and thanks to some older relatives and my good friend Alex Trebek I had never had financial aid before, so I didn't quite understand the system. I missed some final step and was wondering why it wasn't showing up; it would take another month or so for it to come through.

At any rate, my parents were reasonably understanding, and I paid them back the week after I got the funds in my account.
posted by Madamina at 3:06 PM on July 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Seconding take the money. Pay your parents back as soon as the loans clear. Everybody is happy.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:10 PM on July 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Unless your parents are destitute, I think this is perfectly reasonable for them to offer, and you to accept. Getting knocked off course on classes can complicate your college career for some time to come.
posted by randomkeystrike at 3:49 PM on July 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Call financial aid and explain. This is what they are there for.
posted by k8t at 5:59 PM on July 6, 2012

Eer email.
posted by k8t at 6:00 PM on July 6, 2012

I can email financial aid, but they won't get back to me until Monday, at which point I'll have been dropped from all my classes.
posted by Viola at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2012

Take the loan. It's the quickest and most reliable way to solve the problem under the circumstances. I don't think you're going to get any help or white knights over the weekend EXCEPT your parents.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:40 PM on July 6, 2012

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