Plattsburgh State is currently cracking down on state and federal financial guidelines in order for students to maintain full-time status.
The state has begun auditing SUNY colleges for noncompliance with its regulations. PSUC Financial Aid Director Todd Moravec said SUNY Stony Brook had to return $4.5 million in TAP grants because they didn’t comply with these updated regulations.
Now, students have to enroll in 12 credits of nonrepeat courses for their primary major. This means that anything required for one’s major is covered. If a student has another major or minor, he or she can add the courses after they meet the requirements.
If students have nine credits toward their major and three allocated toward their minor, they risk affecting their financial aid eligibility.
Moravec said installing new software that runs every time students sign up for courses will be able to tell them that the course they sign up for qualifies them for aid. The software, he said, will hopefully be up for registration in fall 2016.
Moravec said PSUC should consider updating the college catalog to ensure the requirements for each program are clearer.
Last spring, PSUC started educating faculty, advisers and students about the guidelines. Today, from 12 p.m. in Yokum 200, there will be an information session for students about financial aid regulations.
PSUC hotel, restaurant and tourism management major Morgan Murdza receives financial aid and said she receives the highest amount of financial aid because her mother is a single mother.
Murdza said she feels indifferent to the stricter compliance of financial aid because it has not affected her yet. She’s on an academic plan for the next three years and still needs about 27 of 60 liberal arts credits for her major.
Murdza said the compliance could take a toll on some student’s eligibility due to overlapping credits. PSUC public relations major Kristal Persaud said she understands why the rules are in place but feels students should have more options.
“You should have the option of choosing anything (courses) you like,” Persaud said.
Persaud said that with the compliance, students are getting the courses they need. However, she said, it limits students from expanding their minds.
She holds her Spanish minor to the same standards as her major and feels students should be allowed to use some of their credits toward a minor.
“Even though my minor is Spanish, I still need to learn and take classes for it,” Persaud said.
Fellow public relations major Emilie Mullin agreed.
“I think that it is very harsh for students who are uncertain of their major or are undeclared,” Mullin said.
Journalism is Mullin’s second major. She said she could be hurting herself if her courses don’t overlap. However, Mullin felt it was good that the school is being stricter with compliance.
“There are students who qualify and use financial aid that don’t take college seriously,” said Mullen.“They party and take random classes that don’t pertain to their chosen career path.”
She said those students abuse the system.
“It’s good to become stricter but there are many negatives,” she said.
For instance, Mullin said, PSUC has not given out enough information about the guidelines for maintaining undergraduate full-time status.
Mullin also said the new criteria shouldn’t apply to students who have declared majors, and it should apply to those who haven’t, so that they don’t abuse the system.
“Anyone who takes on a big load can be screwed over because of this,” she said.
Email Patrick Willisch at firstname.lastname@example.org