Seton Hall’s Financial Aid Office instituted a new policy for the 2018 spring semester. Professors are now required to confirm student attendance as opposed to previous semesters, in which students confirmed their attendance.
Director of Financial Aid, Javonda Asante wrote in an email explaining why the office semester implemented the change this semester.
Asante stated the department wanted “to align our policy more closely with federal guidelines; we did so after seeking clarification on these regulations from the Department of Education.”
According to Asante, student certification did not meet the required federal standard.
“According to the DOE guidelines, certification of initial attendance is required from the faculty member in each class,” she said. “This is the reason for the change in the process. If the University does not appropriately comply with these regulations, we are at risk of fines from the federal government.”
In an email addressed to the University, the Financial Aid Office explained the importance of confirming attendance.
“According to federal regulations, we cannot release your financial aid awards to your student account until we receive certification that ‘you have begun attendance (or participation on-line) in all of the classes for which you are registered this semester,” the email states.
The Financial Aid Office assured students in the email that professors know about the importance of following through with confirming attendance and that students cannot complete the action themselves any longer.
“Certification can now only be confirmed by your professors, as you will no longer be able to complete this task,” the email explained. “All professors were notified of the importance of reporting this information timely. Once all your professors have confirmed attendance and all other requirements have been satisfied, your financial aid can move to disbursement.”
Students voiced their feelings about the change.
Brian McShane, a freshman history major, said he was confused about how all of his professors will ensure that his financial aid gets dispensed.
“Just a few minutes ago, I got a notification on COMPASS telling me that I may be at risk for not getting my financial aid. I’m worried that all of my professors won’t confirm my attendance,” McShane said.
Also, McShane mentioned his difficulty in understanding why the change was made.
“I don’t see why it was necessary. It seems convoluted to me because that is one more thing professors have to do. I also think Financial Aid should have told us the reason why the change took place. They said it was happening, but I don’t see why,” McShane said.
Kayleene Wopershall, a junior majoring in anthropology provided an alternative perspective regarding the adjustment.
“Maybe it will be easier for us. To me, it doesn’t seem to be that different from before,” Wopershall said. “I read it in the email Financial Aid sent out last week and it seemed to be fine. It’s just a change from before, but I don’t think it will affect anyone since our professors are being told to do it.”
Kelsey Daneley, a first-year graduate student in the Speech Pathology program, was distraught upon first reading the email.
According to Daneley, she nearly cried when she read the email, which explained the change.
“It scared me because I just didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said. “We as grad students had to take a condensed course as part of our program and I was concerned about how everything was going to work out.”
Daneley mentioned that her professors’ responses will determine not only her coursework, but also her rent and groceries. Thankfully, her professors have begun to confirm her attendance, alleviating her stress.
Ciera Iandiorio, also a first year speech major, finds that the situation may affect undergraduate students more so than it would herself, Daneley and other graduate students.
“Since so many classes are lecture-style, what if the professor just doesn’t confirm the attendance? I don’t think we’re affected as much since our classes are much smaller,” she explained.
Iandiorio feels comfortable about her own situation, but wonders how the change will affect others.
Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.