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Financial Aid Monday Not Coming Till October! Oh no!


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Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice and also to ask if what I'm going through is normal.

I'm starting graduate school on August 15th. I flew out to my new city, got an apartment and I'm in the process of getting settled before school starts. I spent all year saving up money for the move, and figured I had enough to last me till 30 days after school starts. I heard somewhere that financial aid money usually comes to you 30 days after the start date. I just found out that my financial aid money won't be here till 60 days after the start date "probably", so who knows, it could be longer for all I know. Anyways, I have an online job which gives me a little bit of income, but I'm going to move into the red. I did some estimates, and I'll be completely broke by mid-September. Rent and the cost of living in this city are more than I thought, also.

I'm able to defer my school payments till financial aid comes in, but my cost of living is a big worry for me. Is a 60 day wait period normal? Why do they do this? Don't they know that students need money before 1/4 of the way through the school year? I don't know what to do. My credit cards are maxed, and I can't get a new one. My parents are broke. I'm up sh#t creek. Any suggestions?

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You don't elaborate on the type of aid you are receiving, but in my experience the situation you describe is very unusual.

At the schools I have attended, the aid is disbursed before classes start.

Sorry to ask a silly question, but have you spoken directly to someone in the financial aid office at your university?

I'd double check and make sure when the aid will be disbursed.

Also, there are cases in which you can receive advances of financial aid or of your TA salary.

You could ask the fa office about this as well.

Good luck!

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I see your point, ktel.

But if that was the OPs situation, they would receive their financial aid at the end of August and not have any problem.

Here they are saying that they won't get their aid until the middle of October, if then.

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I actually have a similar situation--

My program has a "pre-term" so while official classes start at the end of September (quarter system school) I will be in grad coursework starting the second week of August. Because of the way "pre-term" is structured as not-for-credit coursework (it's designed to get students up to speed on quant/econ/writing since most of us have been out of undergrad a couple years) financial aid doesn't kick in until the regular Fall term timeline.

When I asked the financial aid office to clarify that timeline for me, what they told me is this:

For loans, the money is disbursed (applied to your university tuition/housing bill) two weeks before classes start. However, you don't get your cost of living (ie the money left over after the university is paid) refunded to you until the first week of classes.

Presumably, the refunding timeline is similar for grant/fellowships paid directly to/from the university but you could use any external fellowships paid to you for your living expenses.

So, while I am required to show up to pre-term and pay rent/living expenses for August/September, I don't see a cent of my financial aid until the last week of September.

OP, if you're officially enrolled in the school starting in August you can ask the financial aid office about a bridge loan--I had a friend who used one in undergraduate, and they're designed to help you cover living costs especially in the gap between school years/terms. Unfortunately I'm not officially enrolled until September so that's not an option for me :(

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you can't get more money, you have to conserve what you have. There are lots of ways to save money. Of course you won't be able to go to Starbucks (if you do) or subscribe to cable TV.Can you take in a roommate? Give up your lease and rent a room somewhere instead of an apartment? Buy your clothes used. Sell stuff on ebay or craigslist. Buy your textbooks online, or, better yet, get them at the library if possible. Shop at the dollar stores The 99 Cent Stores have great deals and even sell food. You can get creative and make meals from the ingredients purchased there. For example: salads, burritos, spaghetti, rice dishes, etc. I made a Chipotle- inspired meal with stuff I got at the 99 Cent Store: Romaine lettuce topped with rice, black beans, and a salad dressing. That will make a few meals for $4! Get creative. Good luck!

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Inquire into Emergency Loan programs at your campus.

Also it isn't clear what kind of aid you are referring to - Financial Aid (which comes from the Feds generally) or Program Aid (directly from the school). Financial aid is typically disbursed around the same date for most schools; about a week or so before classes start. Program Aid though my letter says you get your first check about a month after classes start.

This is certainly a lesson - Be obsessive about these things. Research and dig all the information you can so you're not stuck with little surprises like this.

Edited by ANDS!
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No financial aid office will hold onto your refund for that long, especially as a graduate student. I went to undergrad where our refunds were dispersed 2 weeks after registration closed for classes (3 weeks total). But again, that was a small minority serving state school with stricter standards.

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