Financial aid packages disbursed for the semester could potentially require students to return or adjust money because aid is liable to change until the 12th class day, said Diane Sprague, executive director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.
There are two instances where a student would have to return or adjust a portion of their financial aid package: If a student changes colleges or if additional aid is acquired after financial aid packages are distributed, said Carolyn Connerat, associate vice provost for enrollment management.
Students can only receive financial aid equal or less than their calculated cost of attendance, which is calculated by adding tuition, housing, books and supplies, miscellaneous expenses, and transportation, Sprague said.
Jocelyn Rodriguez, human dimensions of organizations junior, said she was not aware financial aid packages could be adjusted after the money was distributed.
Rodriguez said she was offered no loans, only a grant and an award she thought she would not have to pay back.
After changing majors into the College of Liberal Arts, Rodriguez was asked to return $267. Rodriguez had already used that money to pay for textbooks, rent and utility costs.
“What made it more shocking is the point of an award is for you to keep it, not actually ask for the money back,” Rodriguez said.
Connerat said the potential for aid adjustments are communicated through the tuition website and Texas One Stop.
“Some students may just switch colleges because they want to switch colleges and don’t realize that there are different tuitions, even though it’s written there for them,” Connerat said.
Different colleges have varying tuition to account for student resources such as lab equipment, Connerat said. Students may receive or return money depending on the college they transfer to.
“The money we gave you was for you to go to one of the more expensive schools or colleges,” Connerat said. “If it drops back, then you don’t get to keep that money because it was to cover the cost of that attendance at that college.”
Savannah Anderson-Knight, a government and anthropology senior, said she received a $1,000 scholarship that put her over her attendance cost after receiving aid. Anderson-Knight needed to pay the $1,000 balance before registering for next semester's classes, but she had not yet received her scholarship.
Anderson-Knight said she took out a credit card to pay the $1,000 and waited until the scholarship money came to pay off that debt.
“It was a really frustrating situation, and I just wish it would have been more clear,” Anderson-Knight said. “I think I should have been able to keep it, but if they’re going to do it at least be more forward. … I (wish I) would've gotten a straight answer the first time I called and not have to spend two weeks running around trying to get everything figured out.”