By Denicka Wilson
Editor’s Note: Denicka Wilson is a current Howard University student.
I am writing to express my concern about Howard University’s Department of Financial Aid failing to notify students about changes to their financial aid status within a timely manner. After speaking with Howard University students, Robbie Williams and Kamerin Scipio-Smith, I have learned that the root of many issues is a lack of communication between the students and the financial aid department. If students are awarded a certain amount of money and the amount changes, they should receive a clear explanation as to why those changes were made.
In the case of Robbie Williams, she completed all of her forms correctly. Therefore, she should have not had any issues with her financial aid. The Department of Financial Aid should have clearly explained the difference in amounts of aid for those who live on-campus and those who do not. Robbie said that she was granted excessive aid in the form of grants, but she was not aware that it was granted because it was not updated in the system. This was a huge problem because at this point, she had signed for loans. Robbie lives off-campus, so she has to make monthly payments for rent. Those monthly rent payments were not received on time, and she received an eviction notice. She was not able to pay her rent due to the department of financial aid not notifying her about her awards and giving them to her in time to avoid excessive late fees.
Another student, Kamerin Scipio-Smith, also received an eviction notice. The Department of Financial Aid at Howard University marked the wrong document as received on her student portal. She continued to mail over the same document (allegedly missing) over and over again, and no one ever told her that it was a mistake on their behalf. This is another case where lack of communication is a one-sided issue, as students who are filling out their forms correctly are not being assisted accordingly.
After adjustments were finally made, both students received the appropriate amount of aid. The issue is still a problem for the students because they now face court issues due to their eviction notices. All students who fulfill their financial aid requirements on time should receive their financial aid at appropriate times.
Moving forward, students should be notified by the Department of Financial Aid in the amount of time that is appropriate to avoid eviction notices for students who live off-campus.