After being told not to attend classes by many professors the night before, students awoke Monday, Aug. 27 to a financial aid notice from the university requiring them to participate in their classes.
The email states that “NOT participating in courses may result in reductions to, or cancelation of federal financial aid, including Pell Grant, Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans and other Title IV aid.” It goes on to say that professors are now required to report “initial participation” in classes and students who do not intend to participate should drop their classes so their financial aid is calculated correctly and failure to do so could result in a cancelation or reduction of financial aid. Director of Financial Aid Heidi Wisby said initial participation
emails were not related to the strike that happened Monday, and if she could have stopped them from going out, she would have.
“I wish I could have pulled it because I do think it confused people,” Wisby said. “But for us, it’s a combination of last-minute decisions on their part, schedule has it going out before the 8 a.m. classes start, it’s got to be going out anyway. If I had the time I would have pulled it
for everybody until I knew what I could tell you that was accurate.”
Wisby said that the federal government requires that certain emails get sent to students for compliance reasons, and she has over 100 emails throughout the year scheduled to go out at certain times. “You’ve got pluses and minuses to the technology and the plus for the scheduler for me is that I know they’re going out, I know they’re documented, I know they’re on time. If I did it manually, I could avoid this type of thing…
but I’m probably going to miss emails, documentation and timing,” Wisby said. “So, we kind of have to make that decision, but still we want to avoid sending anything to students that’s going to panic them, especially when it’s something beyond their control.”
Ferris music entertainment and business management freshman Jada Smiley said the emails were confusing to get on the first day of classes.
“Those were days that some of my classes were canceled so I was thinking maybe they’re taking attendance and I’m supposed to be there. I was a little nervous and…I don’t want my money affected by [professors] not being there and me not being there,” Smiley said. “It was a little
terrifying, I was talking to my mom, like am I supposed to do something? And it was just confusing.”
Wisby said that initial participation is not based on the first day of classes. Professors have a deadline to report student participation in their classes; this year, that date is Sept. 5.
“I give you guys as long as I can, but I don’t want to delay you, either,” Wisby said. “If I wait for the late starters to show up before I cut people off or make adjustments, then I have to delay you and you’re going [to class].” Wisby said she pushed back the deadline a day to compensate for the day the professors were on strike. If you have questions regarding financial aid, visit the Financial Aid Office in the Timme Center or call them at (231) 591- 2110.