Wednesday, July 29, 2015

College Bureaucracy Hell.....Better Than a Video Game


I have never had the problems dealing with institutions of higher learning(aka universities)with my older 2 children as I have had dealing with them in regards to child number 3, College Boy.

The older 2 by their sophomore year were pretty much on top of things and I was on autopilot with regard to having to "deal" with anything concerning their schooling, other than filling out the dreaded FAFSA each Winter and writing the checks to fund said schooling.

But this kid........!?!

Need I say more?
Yes, yes I do.....a lot more!

First off he is so off in his own world that he totally missed signing up for Fall term 2015 classes last Spring.  He DID make it to "Make-Up Day" but some of the classes he wanted/needed were filled.
He also totally missed Housing/Dining sign-ups for Fall 2015 back during his Spring 2015 term.
Then he missed the Housing "Make-Up Day" altogether.  He says it was because he wanted to room next year with a particular student and then gave me a story about how they need to both simultaneously submit their info/choices to Housing in order to get a room together.
And of course, that didn't even turn out to be accurate.

Now these educational institutions KNOW what the brain of a teenage boy is like.....dealing with them on a regular basis, how could they NOT know this, right?
Yet they handle things in such a way as to set them up for failure with getting all this completed correctly and in a timely manner.

The first thing schools do is NOT allow access to anything concerning the student by their parents.
Who decided this was a good idea?  Especially since the vast majority of parents are footing the bills for these students!
I know it's a privacy issue but every acceptance letter to college should come packaged with it, besides the forms to start applying for housing/classes/dining and financial aid, a form for the student to sign to allow their parents access to school information.

I find it ridiculous that even though I am still legally responsible for this child and I am paying his freaking bills! that I am not allowed to see any information pertaining to him/his grads/his balances due unless HE shows it to me.  Or he signs something they keep on file at the school that gives me permission to even speak to someone in charge about his matriculation at said school.

I don't even get access online to his account and he has to log in and show me the information I need to find.

We got a card from the school about 2 weeks ago informing us that his Fall invoice for school would be available online on July 24, 2015 and that payment was due in full(unless you opted for a billing plan)by August 7, 2015.  That's a 2 week window of opportunity and cuts it very close if you are an old fogey and mail a check rather than put this on your credit card or debit card.

So I try to go online and access the bill and hopefully just pay it electronically since it is faster.
But no, I can't access the bill.
So I have to find an opportunity when College Boy is awake when I am also awake and not practicing his instrument or rushing off to work his part time job.
Easier said than done I tell!

We finally are both free and awake on Monday his day off.  He has to go online on HIS computer since the school's website won't let him log in from my computer.
And I finally get to see the bill and save it to a flash drive so I can print it out forms from my machine.

But the Invoice/Bill says there is half of a $6,500 student loan applied to this bill!
A student loan nobody here applied for......
And to boot it is unsubsidized meaning interest accrues and builds as soon as it is disbursed. yuck.

College Boy looks at the loan amount and says that's cool and now he'll be able to spend more of our money of crap like pizza and going out at school.  I have to explain to him that an unsubsidized loan will grow as soon as you start the clock on this money and by the time he is in a position to start paying this back(and yes, YOU are paying this back, not your father and I!)after graduating and finding a real job, it will be far more than what they are loaning you.

So now I have to call the school and find out 1-why this loan is on his account, and 2-how to get it removed.
And when I called on Tuesday morning of course since CB hadn't signed a FERPA form to give us access to  his records they can't talk to me.  I tell her, "Well if you want to get paid for him to attend school there somebody had better talk to me about something because I pay his bills!" lolz

So she allows me to ask about this student loan issue and then informs me that Noah has to call or email a certain person in their Financial Aid office who handles the direct student loans and request that it be rejected.  I can't do this, even if he had signed a FERPA form.
So now it's on CB to handle this detail.

While nosing around on CB's online account at the school I came across an interesting item tucked in some corner of the site.
The reason we NEVER receive any paper communication from this school(other than this 1 card in the Fall and another 1 in the Spring)is because if you want paper communication you have to OPT IN!
So let me get this straight........you are only going to communicate with the bill paying parents electronically(unless you opt into paper communications which you never let us know we need to do this)but do NOT allow these bill paying parents electronic access to their student's information/account/emails.

Give it a minute to let that all sink in.

Is this all kinds of messed up or what?!?!

I just wonder how many kids show up for move-in day at college with their bill not paid and clueless parents? lolz

ATTENTION COLLEGES--Parents are old, old fashioned and use to PAPER COMMUNICATIONS for IMPORTANT STUFF!  This is how things worked in our world for forever.  We are not 20 somethings use to an electronic everything!
Make Paper the default and let parents OPT OUT if they wish.

So if this craziness isn't enough--now I have to deal with the Residential Life stuff of Housing and Dining.
College Boy's bill says he is on the 14 Meal per Week plan.  I suppose since he was on that one last year and he missed the sign-up/change date they just kept that one on his agenda.
We found that with his schedule last year that he was NOT eating 14 meals a week at the school's facilities.  We were paying gosh knows how much each semester for uneaten meals which drove me crazy!
So there was a 10 Meal per week plan and something called a 175 Block Meal Plan.  These 2 plans were within $2 of each other in price so the same financial outlay basically.  But of course the school's website didn't explain what the difference was between them besides $2.
After emailing the school last week and waiting a full WEEK for a reply explaining what makes these 2 plans different I finally did on Monday.
They both supply an average of 10 meals per week but if you don't use 10 meals a week they carry over into the following week, etc. until the semester ends on the Block Plan. 
This will be a much better option for CB and will result in NOT wasting money on food he doesn't eat.
So we changed his meal plan and will save about $125 a semester(big whoop, right?).  This savings I can use to throw some money at him if he runs short of $ for food during the semester if need be.

Then it was on to the Housing issue. 
He had finally selected a room option in May and luckily they still have available units(even though the sign-up deadline was long past).  And they had paired him with a suite mate and he isn't rooming with this frat brother friend.
So I ask about making a change to a room with said frat brother.
Housing would have to move him out of his current suite and put him in a vacant suite(if they can find one of the option he chose).  Then this frat brother has to request being removed from his current room and put into the CB's new room.  This would be problematic at best seeing as CB would have to get in touch with frat brother in the next 2 week's and get him to handle the request on his end.

But then when the Housing person looked even if they want to try to get this changed they can't because frat brother's parents are paying for a cheaper/different room option.....so frat brother would have to have his parents cough up more cash for the upgraded suite to make this even possible.
So at least we know and CB can get his sulk over this glitch in his plan out of the way before he shows up at school.

So I have mailed out the school payment this morning and am waiting on CB to call the Financial Aid Office to get the loan removed and for the school to correct the bill.  Worse case scenario(other than if the loan co. disburses the money to the school before Financial Aid contacts them)the school says that I have overpaid CB's fall bill.  I can live with that for now.

And we won't be filling out a FAFSA this January for CB's Junior year.  It's just a waste of time on our part seeing as "we are rich" according to the government.
Senior year he will need to take out some loans especially if he has to do an unpaid internship and live on his own in an apartment, somewhere in the country outside of where his school is located for that. 
But until that is needed we are opting OUT of FAFSA.

College Boy's school's Estimated Cost to Attend is $25,280.
Our calculated EFC(or Expected Family Contribution) by FAFSA is $55,111.



CB thus gets nothing for school....no financial needs scholarships, no subsidized loans or state grants.
The only tax benefit we get is a possible $2500 back for the American Opportunity Tax Credit when we file our taxes.
Oh boy......

So if you want some fun and entertainment in your mundane life, go sent a kid off to school.  It's better than a video game.
Though buying a gaming system would be a helluva lot cheaper!

Three more years of this stuff and then you can stick a fork in me and call me DONE!!!

Sluggy




 

15 comments:

  1. Yes, yes you are in college hell! Good grief!! Luckily I have a girl, LOL, and fortunately she gave me her log in info and I can access it (though most of the time I can't figure out how to navigate through it all!) and see everything.

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  2. I feel your pain. I am sending my 18 year old 4 1/2 hrs. away due to his major. Went to pay the tuition online and would have to pay $280.00 for the privilege of using my credit card. No thanks, I sent out a paper check on Monday. My genius waited till April of his senior year to decide what he wanted to do. Couldn't understand my freaking out about getting him in a school, not to mention a dorm room. My daughter was a dream compared to this one. Also love how we need our kids permission to see info or to even get any info. Let them get the money from him. I know if you know this but if he takes out a certain amount of student loans, us as parents must co-sign. Love that one too. Cheryl

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  3. When Son3 went off to school he decided that he was a completely functioning adult and needed no parent involvement. Fortunately his school had a 2 day orientation meeting for parents the week before classes started (student orientation was at the same time, different locations) Bless the parents groups leaders who explained everything we needed to know prior to leaving (including big, thick, stapled paper handouts) After a brief "Come to Jesus" meeting Son3 realized he was not as independent as he thought and happily (?) signed allowing us access to his "business". Funny when you mention how financial support can be withdrawn kids become so much agreeable.

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  4. Boy have we been through this and I hate it. One more semester and I am done! Sorry you still have a few years to go.

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  5. Slugs, I know it's a pain to get the FERPA or whatever signed and submitted, but get that done, and this is key:
    Get him to give you his login for his official college business. I sign into that s***t every danged day! College boys don't even sign in as much as I do, I'm sure. I'm the one who knows when things happen with bills, etc. Just sign in as him. No one will know the difference, and since he will grant you permission, it saves a lot of headaches.

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  6. Maybe some of it has to do with the school too- FAFSA is needed for scholarships though or at least it was when my youngest graduated 6 years ago. It's a nice feeling when they are DONE although it looks like you are still helping, Sluggy LOL. My kids have moved so many times and I never helped once after college- kind of their thing IMO. I did tell DS he might get his sis to lend him some $$ and she did! He paid it back ASAP though heehee- might not have to bank of mom. Downside is when your kids are very independent they don't live close to you so you don't get to see them often...I moved far away from the home state too so I understand.

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  7. There must be something wrong with me. I let my two daughters pick out the colleges of their choice. They entered as emancipated and applied for their own loans and made their own financial arrangements. They just let me know what my share was (their biological father paid the other share) and I wrote out a check.
    Isn't that what college is all supposed to be about? Having your children become adults? There is no way I would have done for my kids what you are doing for your son. It's his life. His education. His future. If he doesn't care enough to even show up on time, I wouldn't cough up a dime. But Hey! That's just me and as I said, there must be something seriously wrong with me.

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    1. Since we are paying for our kids education, it would be a lie for us to claim thet were on there own and we were not helping them. Every kid is different, my dd would have no problem dealing with life, Adam is going to need some help. Cheryl

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    2. You can no longer enter college "emancipated" from your parents unless you are married and/or have dependent children. Our children are responsible for financing their own college educations, but we will still fill out the FAFSA to help them qualify for aid and especially scholarships.

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    3. Why do you say there's something wrong with you, Cindi? Also, I'm a little confused about whether you're chiding Sluggy for paying for college, while you said you did the same. On your blog, you said you supported your kids through college, which must include writing checks to to the college (as mentioned above), yet you also say they applied for and were responsible for their own loans. I guess that would mean you partially supported them through college, and they partially supported themselves through college by taking loans and paying those loans back later. I'm not sure what your point is here, or the meaning behind the seemingly disingenuous and sarcastic statement that there must be something seriously wrong with yourself.

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    4. I said there must be something wrong with ME because I don't have the patience that sluggy has with her own son/children. What's not to understand? I could never do what she has done. I guess my kids knew that because they handled their own college affairs and did all of the paperwork themselves. The only thing I remember is that I had to sign some papers for them and if I was turned down for credit/loan, they were able to get their own college loans. At that time in my life I had a bad credit history. In the end, it was a combination of how their college tuition was paid: some student loans, some from the girls summer jobs, I was partially responsible, their biological father was responsible and when all of that wasn't enough, my dad chipped in. If I sounded disingenuous, that is a misunderstanding. I could never put in the effort that sluggy has with her son and his college matters. It's admirable that she has the where with all to do it. I've never logged onto my kids college internet information. They always showed me their marks. They were in total control of their college days. When both girls graduated they both instantly found jobs at starting salaries of $125,000 each. So, I guess, in the end, everything turned out all right. Perhaps we parents underestimate our children and should just let them do it on their own.
      (my daughters also paid for their own weddings, find their own apartments, buy their own furniture and have now managed their own pregnancies, childbirth and baby/child care. They don't ask me for any money or financial help, except for a one-time condo investment I made with one of them. Here's a truly sarcastic statement: where did I go wrong?)

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  8. God, what a nightmare. I feel for you, Sluggy. Higher education is a mess in all sorts of ways. I am glad you've managed to navigate your way through it all! ARGH!!!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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  9. Ok, time to kick his student butt. He needs to start being on top of this crap or he is gonna give his momma a nervous breakdown. He needs to sign papers so you can have access at the very least. This kind of crap totally drives us crazy too. My stepdaughter - who chose to live with her boyfriend at age 17 and refuses to live with Mom or with Dad and I is supposed to be living "independently" but has not gotten a job so legally she is not living up to her part of that technicality. At 18 she is legally an adult in Alberta where she is attending her final year of highschool. Until October when she is 18 we have to get calls every time she skips school. After that we have zero access. Except we have agreed to pay $500 a month for room and board until she either turns 18 or graduates in the Spring. If she fails to go to school we will stop paying at 18. I just want to kick her butt - not to mention the fact that there is $20,000 sitting in an education account for her likely that she will never use nor can we touch since it is in hubby and his ex wifes name (*special government Canadian account). Things are way cheaper here in Canada for Education though. My stepsn went to a 2 year program that cost $14000 and now is making $60,000 a year one year after graduating. Seriously, your son needs to start opening his eyes about this crap since if he takes a loan - he has to pay it back at some point! (I know you will harp that into him:))

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  10. Let me start by saying, i know that you do what you do out of love.

    I'm only 5 years removed from University, so I'm much closer to Noah's position than yours. I know that all kids are different, but i will say that all of my friends who had their parents rescue them from self made problems at Noah's age are still living in this dream world to this day.

    I'm not saying don't offer guidance when asked, or not have him show you where his college fund money is going. I'm just saying, if he is choosing not to take responsibility for meeting deadlines and such himself, let him suffer real life consequences. (It is college, most problems have solutions if he gets off his but and ask the questions himself)

    My parent would have never called the school for me. Once I was in college, it was 100% up to me, and i believe that this has served me through life. I'm not saying not to do the financial stuff, that could have major consequences, but the rest should be up to him.

    Watching him sleep in instead calling the school to deal with his own meal plan and housing issues might drive you insane. But having him learn how to speak with administration and sort this out himself will serve him much better in the future. (If he doesn't do it, then so be).

    To sum it all up: buy him a calendar and if he chooses not to use it, oh well 8-)

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  11. Welp, we are living the exact same life down to each swear word. How do they think that not telling us what the kids owe will get the bill paid!?!?!?
    I'm doing all of this and gathering crap for my shit head. And he is the helpful kid, Anna was a nightmare when it came to bills. But she was more than willing to shop for the stuff she needed. DJ could care less. His Gparents said they would buy him some clothes and he is too busy to go over there. He's going if I have to drag him behind the car!!!!

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