Valley students experience delay in receiving financial aid

By: Sarah Cervera

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Nydia Selvera says she feels blindsided.

Selvera is graduating from Donna ISD next week with the goal of attending UT Austin to study medicine.

“UT Austin is a university that I have been wanting to go to for a very long time, but not knowing if you are going to get enough money to support that endeavor is shocking and devastating,” Selvera said.

According to Selvera, not knowing how much financial help she is going to receive affected how long it took her to commit to the university.

Colleges and universities across the country are behind on sending out financial aid awards after the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, launched a new system with a shorter application.

The system ended up going live two months later than usual, causing a big delay.

“You see the effects, even now people are undecided on where they want to go and that in itself creates a very stressful environment,” Selvera said.

Channel 5 News spoke to colleges in February, which said they hoped to have awarded financial aid packages by mid-April.

UTRGV met that goal, but other local colleges like STC won't be sending awards until mid-June.

“It's been really difficult for our students,” STC Student Financial Aid Coordinator Rebecca Cano said. “The FAFSA process is a simplification, but they are having a lot of system errors on the Department of Education's part."

Donna ISD Counselor Belinda Ovelle says the delay from STC is inconveniencing close to 100 Donna High School Students.

Ovllae says an additional dozen other Donna High Students are still waiting for their award because they applied to UT Austin and Texas A&M College Station.

“We have done our part, but now it is up to the Department of Education to release that and for the universities to do what they need to do to award the students,” Ovelle said.

According to the UT Austin website, students should be getting financial aid award packages later this month.

Texas A&M College Station's website indicates notices are in the process of going out.

South Texas College clarified in a statement to CHANNEL 5 NEWS:

"Like many other colleges across the country, South Texas College chose not to issue award letters based on estimates given all the delays and glitches in the rollout of the Education Department's new financial aid application.

STC Financial Aid department staff are giving students, during face-to-face meetings, projected funding amounts, if they ask.

Given the low tuition, open enrollment and the Valley Promise Scholarship Initiative, the majority of prospective students should have enough funds to cover costs for fall enrollment at South Texas College.

To date, FAFSA issues have not negatively impacted STC's fall enrollment."

Watch the video above for the full story. 


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