Financial aid residual dispersement delay begins spring semester

Monica Kast

Beginning this semester, WKU will begin paying residual disbursements after the 100 percent drop-add period, according to the Student Financial Assistance.

Previously, residual disbursements were paid the first week of classes. Starting this semester and continuing for future semesters, they will not be paid until after the 100 percent add-drop period is over. The deadline to drop a full-term class with a 100 percent refund is Feb. 1 this semester, and residuals should be available to students on Feb. 12, according to Financial Assistance.

Previously, if a student were to drop a class after the disbursements were paid, they could end up owing money back to the university, especially if they dropped after the 100 percent drop-add period.

According to emails sent to students throughout the fall 2015 semester, that was the driving idea behind changing the disbursement schedule. If a student drops a class, the amount of financial aid awarded would have to be adjusted, and “such adjustments resulted in the student owing money back to WKU.”

Cindy Burnette, the director of Student Financial Assistance, reiterated this point.

“The most common issue … was students whose aid had to be adjusted ended up owing funds back,” she said in an email. “When funds are released prior to the start of the semester, or prior to the end of the 100-percent drop/add period, the student’s enrollment can still fluctuate, which in turn can impact the amount of aid they are eligible to receive.”

Burnette said WKU has been considering changing the disbursement schedule “for some time,” and the official decision was made prior to the beginning of last semester. A group of “random, non-targeted students” were surveyed about their preference for the disbursement schedule.

“We received overwhelming positive reactions to the plan we have adopted,” she said. “Many expressed they would rather not be given any funds until the final amount was confirmed, rather than receiving an estimated amount and funds later be revoked.”

Burnette did not have an exact number or list of the students surveyed available at the time of the interview.

Students who relied on their disbursement to pay for rent can contact Financial Assistance. The office will then contact the student’s landlord to confirm that the tenant’s residual will be delayed, according to Burnette.

Other students previously used the disbursement of residuals to pay for their textbooks. This will remain an option for students who don’t mind buying their books from the campus bookstore.

“Students have the option of charging books to their student account through the WKU bookstore,” Burnette said. “If the student does not choose that option and prefers to purchase their books elsewhere, they can speak to a financial aid counselor regarding other options.”