I have a lot of experience with the financial aid office at Villanova, and I was fairly happy with the department until this year. Now, I see that there are some things that definitely need to change, including who is eligible for aid.
About four years ago, when I was deciding where I wanted to go to college, Villanova was at the top of my list. However, I didn’t think it was possible to attend because of my financial situation. In April, Villanova’s Financial Aid Office gave me a grant that made it possible for me to attend the school without completely burying myself in student loans. I received that same grant money, and more, over the next two years at Villanova. The summer before my senior year, however, my V-bill had nothing on it but the full price of tuition.
My family was shocked to find that Villanova had taken away all of my financial aid, despite the little change in our financial situation. I would have to pay for essentially my entire senior year with student loans. We appealed to financial aid, explaining why we needed more money, and they told us we would hear back in six weeks. That was in June.
I did not hear back from my appeal until December. I had to go an entire semester without any financial aid. When they finally answered the appeal six months later, they had given me a grant significantly smaller than I received in previous years. Still, I was happy to finally get something.
In my second semester of my senior year, I had planned to take only 10 credits, as I had finished my major and minors and was told by OUS that I would still be considered a full-time student if I took over nine credits.
When I got my V-bill for second semester, the aid I was recently promised from the appeal was gone. Again, I was shocked and upset. When I went to talk to financial aid, they told me because I was only taking 10 credits, I was a part-time student and therefore no longer eligible to receive financial aid.
Maybe I should have known that, despite what those in OUS told me, the rule was that full-time students had to take 12 credits or more. Regardless, the idea that students who take less than 12 credits should not receive financial aid is preposterous. Students who take more than six credits at Villanova still pay the same tuition as those who are full-time students. Why, then, do they not receive financial aid if they are still paying just as much as before?
Is it because students who take less than 12 credits (but more than six) are supposed to have more time to get a job that could pay for tuition in place of financial aid? There is no way that I, or anyone in my position, would be able to make the equivalent of the money I receive from financial aid from a part-time job around here. And what if I needed the extra time to get an internship, instead of a job? What if that internship was unpaid? I would not have any extra source of income to help me pay for tuition in that case.
Whatever issues Villanova’s financial aid department might have, this is one of the biggest. Villanova should do one of two things: either lower tuition for those taking less than 12 credits, similarly to how they do for those taking six or less, or offer financial aid to those same students. Their current plan is unfair and nonsensical.