Real back-up plan needed

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Buying textbooks and course materials without financial aid funding just isn’t possible for some students. Unfortunately, no one knows if students will receive funds early enough to purchase textbooks for the first day of class or if they will have to wait weeks.

At the Sept. 11 Audit, Budget and Finance Committee meeting, Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, told trustees that Heartland Payment Systems overlooked 10,000 AlamoCash cards in one day’s order of 10,500. Although all the cards were delivered on time, another 510 students were left out of IT’s refund batch and did not receive funds until the first week of classes. Another 418 had not set up an account with Heartland so were issued paper checks during the first week of classes instead.

The Department of Education says financial aid refunds cannot be issued earlier than 10 days before the first day of classes, and no later than 14 days after the date the balance occurred on the student’s account.

St. Philip’s College loans textbooks first-come, first served, and Palo Alto College can provide $100-$300 book cards. This college offers 50 $100 bookstore scholarships for students in need; however, students have to apply Jan. 14 to be considered for fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters.

When financial aid is delayed, students don’t have textbooks. Even if students could see into the future, that future is likely to be filled with work hours — at times, at more than one job — just to meet basic needs.

We need a real plan. Textbooks are important.

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