By Nick Stern, Managing Editor | Photo by Nick Stern
In the past, disbursement day had previously been somewhat of a nightmare for both the students and faculty, but in the past few semesters the Financial Aid Department has made it much easier for most students to get through the lines easily, with students having the choice to get direct deposit, which has been making a world of difference, said Senior Director of Financial Aid, Lee Carrillo.
This semester was Business major Codi Battershell’s very first time receiving the Pell Grant which she received by walking up to the line that corresponded with her last name, at the Main Campus’ cashier’s desk, she said.
Battershell said she showed up at 2 p.m. and was able to grab her check within seconds flat, which left her quite impressed with how easy the system was for all the students who were picking up their checks, whether at the cashier’s desk or in the cafeteria nearby.
“I was able to walk right up to the desk and pick up my check because there was nobody in line. There were a couple of people that walked up right next to me and I realized that the way the lines are separated according to the first letter of your last name is very efficient,” Battershell said.
This being the first time Battershell ever received Pell Grants, said she was hesitant at first but once she started asking questions, she was pointed in the right direction and was able to apply without any trouble.
Any student who received financial assistance should be very thankful, Battershell said.
Carrillo said that as of the first disbursement date this semester, students were paid $18,027,255.65 in total.
Carrillo also got into the specific amounts like the Pell Grants which were at $11,281,798, the loans at $5,052,973, and the scholarships which were at $1,692,484.65, he said.
All of the financial assistance has gone to 10,106 students so far and the number will keep on growing throughout the semester because there are still checks given out throughout the semester, Carrillo said.
“We disburse throughout the term, so that number is going to increase exponentially by the end of the term. By the end of the term we will have probably paid out $26 million to students,” he said.
For how much money was given out to students on Friday, things went very smoothly and that has definitely been something the Financial Aid office has been working very hard to do, Carrillo said.
Carrillo said there are almost always new Federal regulations that change the way that financial aid can disburse, but they have gotten better at it every term, thanks to great staff, setting up lines alphabetically, and direct deposit.
Now that many students are on direct deposit the disbursement process is even faster, he said.
Carrillo said that about 40 percent of students receiving aid are on direct deposit which is impressive because 50 percent of the student population at CNM have bank accounts.
Students signed up for mostly Late-start classes who did not get their money during the first disbursement date will have to wait until 10 to 14 days after their classes start, Carrillo said.
Even despite the ease of picking up a check this past disbursement date, the financial aid office still received angry students in late-start classes who expected checks along with everyone else, Carrillo said.
All students have many tools at their disposal that should have made it clear when they were supposed to get their checks, such as the student resources on the CNM website, Carrillo said.
“The CNM website has a list of when all late-start students receive their disbursement checks. It is up to the students to go up there to look and see where they are at. That way they can be on top of things,” he said.
The financial aid department also sends a lot of information to students upfront and before disbursement dates via email, including, reminders of late-start classes, repeat courses, and even reminders to fill out FAFSA applications, Carrillo said.
All students in late-start classes, who did not get a check, were sent emails that explained how their checks would come two weeks after their classes have started, Carrillo said.
Students need to read their emails if they want to stay on top of their disbursement situation and that shouldn’t be hard, because financial aid sends students emails a couple weeks before disbursement occurs, Carrillo said.
Financial aid is also always willing to receive emails from students who have questions or concerns, Carrillo said.
There are always people dedicated to reading student emails and responding promptly on the same day as they are received, which can get tough on days when disbursement happens, Carrillo said.
“We have people who personally read the students’ emails and answer their questions. So if students have any questions about their financial aid, they should not hesitate to send an email. We try to answer all questions within an hour or two of being asked,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo would also like to remind students that above all, the Financial Aid department is there to help students, he said.
Students are always able to come in and ask questions about their disbursement, their files being incomplete, or anything else that financial aid can help with, he said.
They are there to help students and Carrillo even remembers being stressed out as a student himself, he said, so he generally knows how most of the students feel when they are worried about not getting their financial aid.
“I used to be a student so I know what it is like to be strapped, have no money, and not know when the money is going to come in,” Carrillo said.