The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 7, 2013

Some former Mountain State students feeling a financial pinch in transfer to UC-Beckley

BECKLEY — Mountain State students who transitioned to University of Charleston at Beckley and must wait a prolonged period for financial aid feel like they are still in the shadow of MSU’s problems.

A criminal justice student planning to graduate this spring said a delay in federal financial aid distribution makes it impossible to purchase caps and gowns and pay for graduation.

An e-mail sent to students on Saturday said they must apply and pay fees associated with graduation by March 31 to participate in graduation and receive their diploma. A late fee will increase to $100 if applications are not received at the close of business on March 11.

Wednesday, UC-Beckley president Dr. Jerry Forster said students with money tied up waiting for financial aid disbursement will not be penalized with late fees while they wait for funds.

Forster explained that because Mountain State University’s appeal process ran until just before Christmas, students enrolling at UC-Beckley this spring could not apply for federal financial aid on time.

He said UC-Beckley did not receive official notification that the U.S. Department of Education recognized these students until February and the money distribution is expected mid-March.

“I empathize with the continued challenge. While I know it is disappointing, I also understand the Department of Education is saying these are the steps and the time frame we have to accept. It is frustrating to the students and it is a challenge to the financial aid folks,” he said.

Forster again reiterated that UC-Beckley will not penalize or apply late fees for students awaiting financial aid to cover the remainder of their fees.

Scott Castleman, University of Charleston public relations director, said the school has simply had to wait for the Department of Education to process and disseminate the funds.

“We are doing everything we can to work through these issues and we want to help out any student who is having concerns about not being able to participate in graduation due to financial aid funds and not getting their distribution,” said Castleman.

“I understand these students, particularly former MSU students, are very sensitive about these issues, but we really care about our students and we will work with those who feel financially unable to pay to order gowns while waiting on their financial aid distribution.”

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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