Student loans should aid, not hinder

Financial aid is confusing.

To start with there are nine overall steps to getting your financial aid. Of course, these are just general steps – not the tiny multiple steps you find within each of the outlined steps.

For example, once you’ve applied for admission, (bare minimum: four steps that really work out to about a 100 in total) figured out the brain bender that is a Free Application for Financial Aid and completed your loan counseling, it’s time to accept your aid.

Sounds simple, right? Kind of like a slightly more complex version of a yes or no question? Not quite.

In the detailed steps to accepting your aid, found on the UAA financial aid Web site, they list 10 in total. Some seem simple (Click on award) to the more complex (You must read and then click on ‘Yes’ to indicate you have read the

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy.)

That might not sound too complicated, but go on to UAOnline to actually do it. To find the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy, you first have to go to the Resources/Additional information tab, read through everything, and then click “yes.”

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However, good luck finding it. It’s buried at the bottom of the page, under a massive amount of text, is a tiny little button. Probably one word in length and height, resting near the bottom.

That’s what you have to find, and click.

Also, don’t forget to fill out a master promissory note compatible with the loan type you’ve accepted.  So, you know, you get your money.

Oh! Also, you have to accept your award through UAOnline. This really is pretty simple. You just click accept or decline, or accept part. The part you want you just write in. Just press submit, and PRESTO! Your student loan is on your way.

Of course, this is all incredibly dependant on you filling out every element of every item, turning it in on time and no human error. The last of which is completely out of an individual’s control. It’s a bad cliché, but to err is human. The more steps you incorporate into a process, the more room you have for error.

Ideally, the process would be so streamlined, that it would be next to impossible to miss something. But unfortunately, the system we currently have is not set up for that.

Most people wish they didn’t have to take out student loans and wish they could pay for their education outright, but unfortunately most underclassmen end up taking out between $6,000 to $8,000 worth of financial aid a year. Upperclassmen take out about $9,000 a year.

We all wish college was more affordable, but the fact is at the end of the day all students have to figure out a way to pay for it. By making the process complicated and confusing, it just makes a harder time for everyone involved and probably discourages countless students from continuing, and maybe even starting their education in the first place.

Steps should be taken to help make the process more streamlined with more informed advisors available to help guide students, both new and old, through the process.

Until the state can figure out a more efficient way to guide students through the student loan process, make sure to go online and see the financial aid Web site. It provides the most detailed instructions available. Read through them, carefully, plan ahead and don’t be afraid to ask the financial aid office questions.

For now it’s complicated, but hopefully one day it won’t have to be.