Show me the money
When determining assignment due dates and requiring course materials, I often think about students who share with me that they are on financial aid because adhering to due dates is a difficult task when students are unable to purchase or rent textbooks. Students have described the financial aid process as complex and confusing. These factors often impact their pursuit in an online course. Generally students’ grants or loans will cover a full academic year and the school disburses the money in at least two payments. However, our semester calendar doesn’t always line up with the pay outs and my students can be enrolled in a class for several weeks without the required course materials because their financial aid checks did not yet come in.
To assist students who are unable to obtain materials right away I do place textbooks on reserve in our College of DuPage library where they are kept at the Circulation Desk, but the materials have fairly short loan periods. Most of the information needed to succeed in the course is available online, but students still run into barriers in securing their financial aid and can be dropped from the course for not paying tuition or inability to collect the required course materials.
Our College of DuPage website offers extensive information on Financial Aid:
Disbursement of Financial Aid Funds
The actual disbursement of financial aid varies and is dependent on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by your FAFSA and your enrollment status:
Full-time = 12 credit hours or more
Three Quarter time = 9 to 11 credit hours
Half-time = 6 to 8 hours
Less than half-time = 1 to 5 credit hours
Your financial aid award – which includes Grants and Loans – is determined upon your enrollment status after the refund period for each of your registered classes. This date is referred to as the “census date”.
To be considered enrolled in the class – for financial aid purposes – you must be registered for the class before the 50% refund period for each class. Registering for a class after the 50% refund period can affect your financial aid award and may cause you to owe a balance at College of DuPage
** If your financial aid is awarded after the census date, your financial aid award could be determined by your enrollment hours at that time. In addition, if term grades post before your financial aid is awarded, your financial aid award will be based upon your successfully completed and earned hours **You want to be cautious in withdrawing from a course since it could impact your financial aid benefit. If you are receiving financial aid you should consult with the Financial Aid office (or contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org ) before withdrawing from any class to determine the impact on your aid.
Students on Financial Aid appear to be closely monitored for persistence, retention and grades. There is a penalty enforced if students earn a number of “F” or “W” grades. In fact, some students will lose their financial aid if a pattern of inconsistent attendance or poor grades emerge. With the electronic database, these data points are easily accessible. For example, I recently received an e-mail request from a Financial Aid Representative in the Office of Student Financial Assistance at COD:
Your student was reported non-attend as Roster Verification for English 1102 online. This student has contacted our office in regards to the non-attend status. Can you verify the following:
- Has the student attended class? If so, please provide the first date he attended.
- If the student has not attended class, did he contact you to explain why he would be absent?
Students with financial aid were notified that they are required to attend class during the add/drop period in order to be eligible for aid for that class. I greatly appreciate your assistance in this matter and letting us know if the student has been active in your class.
Through online record keeping in the Blackboard Learning Management System, I was able to respond to the Financial Aid Office with a detailed report. I downloaded the itemized assignment list and generated a Blackboard report with due dates and updated grades for the student:
Item Grade Description Due Date
Total 14 (A)
The unweighted sum of all grades for a user.
All assignments are due by 5:00 p.m.
Unit 1 – BLOG 5.00 January 29, 2016
Unit 2 Discussion Board 5.00 February 1, 2016
Unit 3 Discussion Board 4.00 February 8, 2016
Unit 4 Discussion – February 15, 2016
Unit 4 Book Summary Source – February 15, 2016
Unit 4 Scholarly Journal Summary Source – February 15, 2016
Unit 5 Internet Source Summary – February 22, 2016
Unit 5 Discussion Board – February 22, 2016
Unit 6 Discussion Board – February 29, 2016
Unit 6 Source Summary – February 29, 2016
Final Research Essay – March 11, 2016
I concluded my e-mail to the Financial Aid Office with additional information archived online:
In re-checking the BB log, the student did submit Unit 1 on time on January 29th at 11:38 a.m. I believe the non-attend status was prompted by multiple late assignments. I send students a “Late Notice” e-mail on the day an assignment is past due and this student should have received late notices prompting assignment submission. The student submitted Unit 2 late on 2/2 at 11:26 a.m. Unit 3 was also submitted late on 2/8 at 10:05 p.m.