As unprecedented budget cuts take full effect, the lack of classes has some UCSB students worrying they may not be able to receive their financial aid.
Students who fail to enroll in a minimum of 12 units by Oct. 14 — the official last day to add a course this quarter — will experience a reduction of federal grants, including Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness Grants and National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent (S.M.A.R.T.) Grants. In addition, state grants such as the Cal Grant and the UC Grant will also be lessened for students who couldn’t attain status as a full-time student.
Michael Miller, interim director of the Financial Aid Office, said monetary aid is so crucial for some students that many will put their education on hiatus if financial aid is no longer available to them.
“Some students have come into the office saying they can’t get enough classes,” Miller said. “They’re saying they will take a quarter off and return for Winter or Spring Quarter. It’s a small number of students, but it is more than we’ve seen in the past.”
The exact number of students suffering from loss of financial aid will remain unknown until the third week of classes when the deadline for full-time enrollment takes effect, Miller said.
“At this point, it’s a little too early to tell what the trend will be,” Miller said.
According to Miller, students must be enrolled in a minimum of six units before the quarter begins to receive the financial aid necessary to pay off their BARC account balance for the quarter. Students have until the third week of classes to enroll in 12 units in order to maintain financial aid earnings.
Despite the chaos and uncertainty that recent budget cuts have thrown on students’ schedules, Miller said, exceptions will not be made for students who couldn’t manage to sign up for at least 12 units.
“Students can’t have full-time financial aid if they’re only part-time students,” Miller said.
Pablo Lopez, a peer advisor for the Dept. of Financial Aid, said the financial aid office is still unclear about the full implications of budget cuts.
“At this point, we’re not sure how many students will be affected, but we have been receiving a lot of students in the office who are worried about their financial aid,” Lopez said.
From his office’s perspective, Pete Villarreal, Educational Opportunity Program executive director, said it’s too soon to make any conclusions about UCSB students losing their financial aid status.
“I don’t have any information of this occurring among our student population,” Villarreal said. “At this point, I don’t have any information to base any conclusions off of.”