EDITORIAL: ‘It’s our money and we need it now!’ – Change in residual disbursement leaves students suffering

Residuals cartoon

Herald Staff

The issue: Starting this semester, financial aid residuals won’t be disbursed until three weeks after the semester begins.

Our stance: While the intentions were good, this change in policy may cause more harm than it does good.


We’ve been warned about this multiple times through emails since the beginning of last semester, but it’s still a bummer to realize that residual disbursement will be coming three weeks later than usual after the 100 percent drop-add period.

Previously, students would use this money towards rent, groceries, books, school supplies and other necessities. Now, however, all of those will have to wait.

The financial aid department claims many other universities are choosing to implement this policy, but according to the financial aid departments at the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, students are able to receive their residuals during the first week classes begin. At Eastern Kentucky University they implement this policy, but their drop-add period ends sooner than WKU’s, allowing the students access to their residual money during the second week of the semester.

WKU’s financial aid department made the decision to withhold residuals until after the drop-add period because students would often spend their residual money, drop a class and then owe money to the university for the class they dropped.

According to Cindy Burnette, the director of Student Financial Assistance, the university consulted a random group of students, and they said they would rather wait for their residuals instead of being put through the hardship of owing money after receiving it.

This resolution, however, just seems to create more problems for students. While the university is pushing students to buy their textbooks and school supplies at the university bookstore and charge these to their account, textbooks are often much more expensive at the bookstore. As for rent, the financial aid department is offering to send letters explaining the delay to landlords of students who will not be able to be able to pay their rent on time due to this change. The property manager of the Columns Apartments, Ali Pittman, said this wouldn’t be a problem for her and that she understood the financial hardships of being a student. On the other hand, this isn’t a guarantee that all landlords will be similarly forgiving.

The financial aid department had another option: requiring students to inform the university of their plans for enrollment. However, this still left an opportunity for students who changed from full-time to part-time to owe money.

These don’t seem like problems that the majority of students face. While it is bad that some are left owing the university money after spending their residuals, many more need that money sooner than three weeks into the semester.