Financial Aid switches Federal funding program

James Ahrens

With a switch in the financial aid setup, future students should experience fewer problems in receiving financial assistance.

Like many other students, Amanda Bayless received e-mail on the situation at the end of last May. While she was able to resign her master promissory note and subsequently receive her financial aid for this semester, the experience was somewhat less than pleasant.

“It was kind of irritating,” said Bayless. “I don’t have money to pay for school any other way.”

According to the May 29 e-mail, all students who receive Direct Stafford and PLUS loans, which is a large portion of the student population at Washburn, would be required to re-sign their master promissory notes in order to receive financial aid again this semester. This was because of the switch from the Federal Family Education Loan program to the Direct Loan program. The switch was prompted by uncertainties in the stability of the FFEL program. According to the Washburn Financial Aid Web site, the new program is more stable because funds for the Direct Stafford and PLUS loan program come directly from the Federal Treasury, rather than private lenders.

According to Annita Huff, director of financial aid, the system switch over was not easy.

“The decision was based on the unstable outlook for private lenders and their untimely withdrawal from the [Federal Family Education Loan Program],” said Huff. “Most recently the withdrawal of CoreFirst Bank and Trust prompted our decision to offer the more stable Direct Loan Program.

The university does not hold any information about the master promissory notes or the notes themselves, so when Washburn switched institutions, it was necessary to collect the promissory note signatures again.

“The Federal Direct Loan program is working perfectly. [It] will offer benefits [students] haven’t seen before. Anytime you bring up a program that hasn’t been implemented before it will be bumpy, but overall I’m pleased,” said Huff, who has been answering questions and alleviating frustrations for students since the program has begun.

Huff said the financial aid office has the seemingly-impossible task of dealing with over 7,000 sections of federal regulation. She keeps it simple by helping one student at a time. Huff proposed the Direct Loan program to the university because it gives better service.

Jennifer Hill, assistant director of financial aid, agreed with Huff, saying that the new system is much more streamlined, and will help alleviate problems in the future.