Students reap $6.73 million in aid refunds

MAEGAN MITCHELL
Senior Writer

Approximately $6.73 million was given back to KC students this semester because of excess aid, loan disbursements per federal guidelines as well as refunds of all scholarships, grants and loans.

Of that amount, about $312,000 was returned to students via check.

The other approximately $6.42 million was direct deposited to students’ Ranger cards, or to previously designated accounts.

Both the financial aid office and the business office agree that this semester’s refund process was less complicated than previous semesters.

“I think Herring Bank has also improved their services as well when the students have to call them for any reason,” Jane Hood, cashier supervisor, said.

Students who are considered first-time loan borrowers and are in accelerated courses, are the only students who have not received their refunds at this time.

Annette Morgan, financial aid director, said due to federal regulations, classes that started later, like the accelerated courses, have to wait 30 days into the semester before loans can be processed and put toward their accounts.

Hood said that on Oct. 18 the first-time loan borrowers that are fall-only students will receive the second half of their loan amounts.

Many students applied for and received federal student loan funds and the business office still has checks for students who received money back.

“These funds to help students pay educational expenses are expected to be paid back,” Morgan said. “Loans can open the door to a student receiving a college degree, but they can also close the door.”

Morgan stressed the importance of understanding the “dangers of being involved in the loan program.”

If a student who has gotten a loan chooses to ignore that those funds are to be repaid, leaves, withdraws or graduates from school and does not begin the repayment process to the point the loan goes into default, that student is ineligible to return to school or get any more financial aid of any kind. The student will also be unable to retrieve their transcript.

“Students don’t think of this in terms of what is going to happen in years to come, but it is very, very real,” Morgan said.

Students who plan to transfer to a university are advised to wait to apply for federal loans if they do not need the money right now.

“The four-year schools are three times as expensive as Kilgore College. If it is imperative for them to have the loans then that is fine, but if it’s not, they should wait,” Morgan said. “It would be smart to be at a four-year school, getting a four-year degree and going into debt then.”

Students can check their debt by creating an account on the National Student Loans Database System (NSLDS) which keeps a running total of the amount of debt they are acquiring.

“What is so hard to understand? It can affect your IRS tax refund because if you owe, they will take it. I have seen people that have their Social Security benefits taken for unpaid loan debt. They can even garnish your wages,” Morgan said. “It can affect your credit and ability to get a job, buy a house and even a car.”

Morgan has been at KC for more than 20 years and has seen many students affected by unpaid loan debt.
“If they can go to classes, do the work for the teachers and keep up their grades then they can understand this program,” Morgan said. “It’s not that students don’t understand… they understand. They just choose to ignore it.”

Morgan also added that students who have a bachelor’s degree will not qualify for a Pell grant.

“If you’re coming back to school and you’re changing your major, that is good and fine,” Morgan said. “Make sure you’re going into debt for a good reason. You need to make sure you graduate with a marketable skill so you can become employed and begin repaying your borrowed money.”

Morgan said the Federal Loan Program was created on that logic. Federal money was made available to students to help get them through school to get a job so they can repay their loans.

“It was not created as an easy way out,” Morgan said.

Taking the minimum of six hours per semester is not enough according to Morgan.

“You need to be a full time student if you’re going to acquire a full-time debt,” Morgan said.

If students have questions or concerns they should first contact the business office at 903-984-8531 to see if their loans have been processed. If it is an issue they cannot address, the business office will direct the student to the financial aid office.

Students can contact the financial aid office at 903-983-8211.

For questions regarding Ranger cards or the account balances, contact Herring National Bank at 940-552-5444.