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CSN students frustrated over delayed financial aid notices

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CSN students frustrated over delayed financial aid notices

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Aug 7, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The start of fall classes is just a few weeks away but some community college students are left in limbo over their financial aid.

The College of Southern Nevada typically distributes financial aid award notices in June or July; so far, students have yet to hear if they will receive assistance for the upcoming school year. Classes start Aug. 25.

"It's very stressful and it's unacceptable," said nursing student Nicole Harms. "This is a professional, educational institution for adults. There's no reason we shouldn't know right now we're getting."

The award notice provides details on what aid, if any, the student qualifies to receive. Harms is a mother and a nursing student who needs to plan her finances. She said she kept getting different excuses from the school about the delay, so she called Action News.

"I have to take loan money out to pay for my books, and my tuition and child care," Harms said.

Turns out, others are frustrated too. Many have taken to the school's Facebook page to vent about the delay. 

"No one knows if they're going to be able to pay for the whole semester," said Harms.

The college said students should receive their financial aid award notices starting on Sunday, Aug. 10. The school will start disbursement around Monday, Aug. 18, which it says is earlier than normal. 

So what's the hold up for the notices?

The school is in the process of overhauling its financial aid office after a series of mistakes left students with the wrong financial aid packages last year, said Patty Charlton, vice president of finance and administration. 

Charlton said the new system needed extensive testing to make sure it's accurate. The office is also hiring additional staff and creating a financial aid call center, which take time. In the end, Charlton said the changes will be worth the hassle. But students are tired of waiting.

"This isn't ok," Harms said. "This is stuff that should've been handled by June."

CSN could not say how many students are impacted by the delay.

Students at the University of Nevada Las Vegas received their financial aid award notices for the 2014-2015 school year back in March, said university spokeswoman Afsha Bawany. Per law, the money is disbursed ten days before the start of school, she said.

Allison Stephens, a member of the Nevada Board of Regents who sat on the committee handling CSN's financial aid overhaul, said it's tough to compare the timeliness of the two schools when it comes to the award notices.

Students at the two schools have different financial situations. UNLV is a university with many younger students from out of town. CSN is a community college with many local, working adults as students who often attend classes part time. 

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

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Michael Lopardi is the featured reporter of the You Ask. We Investigate. franchise at Action News.