Financial aid service brings in complaints

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Cristian Orellana

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Maria DiFelice, Asst News Editor

Before coming to school this fall, Gaia Nix, a sophomore political science major and a first-generation college student, realized her scholarships and financial aid were not put into Loyola’s new LORA Self-Service system.

Nix said she first emailed the financial aid office on Aug.15 regarding her issues with the loan process. This was the day that her Fall 2022 semester payment was due. She said that their email interactions were not helpful, as financial aid never answered her questions or assisted her in figuring out her situation. Nix said this left her confused and alone.

“I pretty much felt like I had to go through it all by myself because I am a first generation college student, so my parents didn’t know what to do,” Nix said.

Many students had issues with their finances during the switch from the old LORA system to the new LORA Self-Service. But students said they were more frustrated with what they called slow and rude financial aid customer service.

Students have said that they needed to email and call financial aid multiple times before getting a response and that even after getting a response financial aid was not helpful.

Loyola’s associate director of public affairs, Patricia Murret, said that Loyola’s financial aid department works with every student individually in order to help them understand their aid package. She added that financial aid starts working with students as early as May 1.

“We also always recommend that the continuing student have their FAFSA package in place and have all their questions answered before they go home for the summer. Doing this helps eliminate last-minute stress and questions that can sometimes feel overwhelming,” Murret said.

The peak season for the department is from the beginning of July all the way until move-in week in mid-August, according to Murret. She also said that students who are still having issues with their financial aid, should be able to book a same-day appointment now.

Loyola’s director of financial aid, Anna Daigle, said that the more each student knows about their case, the more financial aid can help with potential problems.

“For those experiencing stress or extenuating circumstances, the best thing you can do is to keep the communication going with your financial aid counselor,” she said.

Nix argued that she stayed in touch with her advisor and was continually met with a bad attitude and left with more questions than before. Nix, who had a Direct Plus Loan for parents, which is a loan directly issued to a parent, was asked about her living situation on the phone with her advisor. She said being asked about personal information that didn’t seem relevant was difficult.

After explaining to her advisor that she didn’t live with her mother, who the loan was under and that she needed to change her loan accordingly, Nix said that her advisor refused to switch the loan and didn’t give her any other options. She said this interaction only made her feel more frustrated.

“I’ve never had a decent conversation with my financial advisor,” Nix said

Ashley Damon, a sophomore double majoring in advertising and psychology, who also had financial troubles over the summer, said that she too felt ignored after the financial aid office did not get back to her in a timely manner. 

She explained how her financial aid was also initially inaccurate in the new LORA and that when she emailed financial aid, the office took a long time to respond or wouldn’t respond at all. 

“Sometimes they wouldn’t respond, and I just see it would change,” Damon said, commenting on the lack of transparency within the office.

Olivia Delahoussaye, a senior English major, said that while they were on the phone with financial aid, their advisor was rude.

Delahoussaye said that when they were explaining to financial aid about how the amount they owed was not matching the amount on LORA Self-Service, their advisor responded that there was no problem on the office’s end. 

Delahoussaye said that the phone call felt unprofessional and careless. They added that even though it might have not been a major problem to financial aid, Delahoussaye felt that it was important that they understand how the issue may be resolved as it was a matter of their personal financial security.  

 “I would have preferred a little bit better customer service,” Delahoussaye said.