Medgar Evers Students Stage Walkout over Financial Aid Fiasco
By Mary Alice Miller
Our Time Press
Several hundred students and their supporters packed the plaza of Medgar Evers College to protest a litany of allegations against President Pollard and his administration. Among the ongoing complaints: curtailed student services and remedial labs, no access to the student computer labs during the first three weeks of the semester, and allegations that Dr. Pollard announced a drastic reduction in course offerings due to a budget deficit of up to $3 million.
What sent students into the streets is a letter many received from the Bursar’s Office which stated “there is an outstanding tuition balance.” The letter dated October 10, 2012 asks that students “Please make your payment no later than Thursday October 25th, 2012 to avoid a late payment fee.”
Several students acknowledged receiving the letter and are concerned about their academic future.
Miasha, a freshman who wants to pursue a career in nursing, produced a billing statement for 6 classes and a language lab totaling 9 credits. The statement dated August 27, 2012 states Miasha’s total financial aid applied was $2,775.00, a Pell estimate. Her contribution to her Fall semester class load was $90.85. Yet, she received a letter from the Bursar dated October 10, 2012 alerting her of an outstanding tuition balance of $2,865.85. Miasha said she doesn’t have almost $3,000 available to submit by the October 25, 2012 due date and doesn’t know what she is going to do.
Ardith’s August 27, 2012 tuition bill for five classes (13 credits) was $2,865.85, of which the Pell Grant allocation was $2,775.00 and an SEOG was $90.85. The outstanding balance at that time was $0.00 Ardith received his October 10, 2012 letter which stated the outstanding tuition balance is $867.36, due October 25th.
Kristt Basile said he received an outstanding balance letter, too. Kristt is a transfer student from Syracuse University, said his letter claimed he had a tuition deficit, but his tuition was fully paid by Pell. “I don’t understand,” said Kristt. “They said I was denied TAP for some arbitrary reason. I was $0.00 balance before, now I have a bill for about $800.00. I am interested in finding out what happened. I am protesting, because there is no reason why I should owe money when I was at a zero balance.
Something got changed in the system to deny my funds, but I don’t know why.” Kristt said this situation is making him “edgy, and not comfortable in class. I feel as if I am wasting my time right now” because he is not sure he will be able to complete the semester. “This has got me really mad right now.”
Natasha, a freshman, said her letter states she has to pay $961.00 by October 25. If she is unable to pay, Natasha said “They will drop me out of classes.” Natasha said she didn’t understand how she could owe money because she was supposed to receive about $1,000 from her financial aid next week. She plans to “start a payment plan, and then when they fix it, have them refund my money.”
Dawn Walker, Assistant Vice President in the Office of Communications and External Relations at Medgar Evers College, and Director of Communications Christopher Hundley were contacted to explain the sudden change in student financial aid allocations. CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein was also contacted. As of press deadline, there was no response.
Council member Letitia James had a blunt response: “If Medgar Evers made the mistake, let Medgar Evers cover the balance.”