New Program Takes Students Through the ‘Morgan State Shuffle’

By Alfred Osu

 

This year, the financial aid department had students participating in a never-ending game of musical chairs. Morgan State implemented a system to disperse refund checks to students that has brought about some mayhem and confusion.

Higher One is the leader in providing financial services and data analytics to more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country. “Morgan State hired this company to serve as the middle man between the institution and the students, in hopes that it would make the transferring and receiving of refunds a painless process compared to the past,” explained Tanya Wilkerson, Director of Financial Aid.

In recent years, students would have to stand in a line in front of the glass window across from the Bursar’s office to speak with someone who may or may not always be there. From there students would have to recite their student ID numbers and take a paper receipt to another window where they’d have to hand in their actual ID card along with the receipt they just received to someone who would then hand them their check.

“We wanted students not to have to come back and forth to our offices asking questions and leaving unsatisfied all semester,” said Ettare Stokes, one of the Financial Aid Advisors. “This makes it a lot easier for them.”

On a good day, students should expect to set aside at least an hour to complete any task in the Montebello building, especially when it’s pertaining to refunds. The Higher One system was designed to shorten this process, but the system has been a nightmare for faculty and students alike.

Vestina Lingham, Administrative Assistant to Dean Whickham of the School of Global Journalism and Communication has been directly affected. Her daughters’ troubles with financial aid and the Higher One program speak for most people. “My daughter called to find out where her refund was and they told her that they sent her a little plastic card, but she never got a plastic card,” said Lingham. “She has had to go back and forth with Morgan and Higher One to figure out who knows what is going on with the check and it’s halfway through the semester.”

The card she’s referring to is one of the options that students are given when deciding how they want their funds distributed to them. Some students have their monies deposited directly to their bank account, while others, like Maia Walker, a Senior Broadcast Journalism major at Morgan, waits for paper checks that end up getting lost in translation.

“They sent my check to Connecticut, and I haven’t lived there in years,” says Walker. “Morgan never confirmed my address before they sent my money, so I had to call Higher One and have them cancel the check and re-issue a new one”.

This semester, countless students have had their checks sent to addresses that they are no longer residents of. In some cases, financial aid officials told students that in order to resolve the situation they would have to go back to the address where the check was initially mailed and intercept it before it was too late.

Not every student has had complications; in fact, some students paid very close attention to the preemptive emails that Morgan sent out during the summer to carefully walk students thought this new process. No matter what side of the spectrum you fall on, there is no doubt that this system needs a few tweaks to make sure that it runs smoothly in the future.

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