Letter to the Editor: My problems with Financial Aid

I am a sophomore who was asked to speak at the Rally for Financial Transparency from AU, which occurred Oct. 20. I could not attend due to my class schedule, and therefore I have decided to share the details of my situation through The Eagle. 

This summer I received my financial aid award package from AU and found that my financial aid (which consists of federal aid and an AU grant) had been severely cut. As I had nearly full financial coverage last year as a freshman, I did some investigating as to how this could have happened. I spoke with representatives from FAFSA, as well as the Financial Aid Office here at AU. FAFSA told me all financial decisions were the final decisions of my university and, due to this, they could not help me in any way other than by giving me advice.

My family last year had three dependents and one of them, my older sister, moved to Texas to follow a job opportunity and she is no longer a dependent. AU claimed that the decrease of my household size from four to three (three children and one parent) was enough to take away $15,000 in financial aid, even though my single parent still makes slightly less than the cost of attendance for AU; in two years my parent will also be supporting my younger brother when he enters college. My single parent is also disabled, but chooses to not receive benefits because he can still work and therefore believes that others could use monetary support more than he. AU knows these details and still turns a blind eye.

From a young age, I have known the realities of my family's financial situation and that if I did not work hard enough in my schooling I would not be able to access higher education. I graduated fourth in my class with hundreds of hours of community service and extracurricular activities. Regardless of the fact that I entered AU as an excellent student and continued to be a successful student averaging a 3.65 GPA, I have been abandoned by the University and left with no options. Because of this situation, which the Financial Aid Office informed me will get worse (even though I filed an appeal and managed to receive a very small increase in funds) I am being forced to transfer schools and go somewhere in my home state that is more affordable.

I have been told that my situation is very timely for current events at the University, and, like those attending tomorrow's rally, am outraged that this has happened to me. Yes, I could continue attending AU if I were willing and able to take on massive loans, but because of the recession and my family situation, I cannot afford to do that. To do so would be to cripple my family. I notified AU of this reality as well, but again, I was told to take out a loan and make sure I paid my bill on time.

?I feel betrayed by this University, which claims to put its students first. I am evidence of the fact that this is not true. ??

Heather Doppel? American University '14 ?History/Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies?

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