by: Samantha Manning Updated:
SANFORD, Fla. - Hurricane Irma delayed financial aid payments to students at Seminole State College because the school was closed for a week.
But now, a few weeks later, around 550 students are still waiting for their financial aid to go through.
Christina Warner is one of those students.
"I just want to make people aware that it's an issue,” she said.
The college's director of financial aid, Roseann Amato, said a new federal fee change slowed things down—and an IRS data breach cut off access to a database students had to use.
"The numbers that we've heard is such a tiny, tiny amount compared to the numbers that we've disbursed,” said Amato.
School officials said the 13 employees in the financial aid office have been working extra hours since Irma hit.
By comparison, Valencia College has 42 employees in the financial aid office to help it’s more than 45,000 students enrolled this semester.
“Well, I think that other schools our size might have a few more but we're trying to adjust by improving our system,” said Amato.
Amato said some of those improvements include hiring a consultant to review the computer system and getting a new online verification portal.
Warner and the other affected students want to see changes as soon as possible.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” she said.
Amato said there has also been some confusion for students who may think the federal funds have already been disbursed but are actually still processing.
“If you get a letter in the mail that says your aid is here, check with us because it’s probably just the disclosure statement saying this is when it could disburse, not that we’ve sent your funds to the school,” Amato said.
Amato said the roughly 550 students waiting to have their financial aid go through are expected to have it completed within the next two weeks.
The school said students can contact the financial aid office and provide their individual student number to find out why their financial aid may be delayed.
“We’re able to do this we just really need to get those students in front of us so we can talk about their individual situations,” Amato said.
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