Roxbury Community College Gets Financial Aid, Three Months Late

Tim Goral's picture
Monday, May 21, 2012

For about 1,400 students at Roxbury Community College, the checks are finally in the mail. And the mad scramble to get them out is just another sign of the dysfunction choking what should be an important Boston institution.

The checks in question are for financial aid, vital funds normally disbursed near the beginning of a semester, rather than at the end of it. But the money could not be paid because the college struggled for months to comply with government regulations on eligibility for the aid, two college administrators said. Students who qualify can use the government money to help cover tuition, as well as books, transportation, and other expenses.

To quality for financial aid, students must be enrolled in classes that lead to certificates or degrees. Sounds simple, but in well over a thousand cases, Roxbury administrators couldn’t verify that. Dr. Stephanie Janey, the school’s vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, blamed the delay on a computer problem that made it impossible to verify that all the students were eligible for aid. She said between 1,400 and 1,600 records had to be checked manually. Janey said administrators did not know whether the computer problem was a new one. The amount of money tied up is said to approach $2 million.

This isn’t just about mailing some checks out a couple of months late, though that would be bad enough. The real issue is the college’s inability to manage a function that thousands of colleges handle routinely. Nothing, it seems, is routine at Roxbury Community College.

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