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The Search for Aid

September 25, 1988

The points James Flanigan made in his column concerning the growth in administrative costs ("Colleges Must Learn the ABCs of Economics," Sept. 4) affects all aspects of post-secondary education. Teaching has become a secondary art in colleges and universities. Publishing and tenure and preserving your position appear to have become the goals of educators. This may be a harsh and generalized judgment but is nevertheless true.

It is especially true in the financial aid departments of many institutions of higher education. Financial aid is not available simply because the money is set aside. One has to go through the complex, exasperating and defeating twists and turns of the process in order to see his or her first dollar.

All too often, the student does not see the financial aid at all or not in time because of poorly staffed, poorly informed, arbitrary and unwilling financial aid administrators. There are exceptions, of course. But, by and large, the student receives such a cold hand and suspicious eye from the financial aid staffers that many just give up, many stop right in the middle of the semester because the aid that was to have been in their hands is not--and will not arrive before starvation.

Admissions is not connected to the financial aid department, neither group interfaces with one another. Curriculum review and counseling, both of which go hand in hand with financial aid planning is, quite literally, non-existent.

Schools will vigorously claim the opposite. They do not know that they do not know. The proof is in the pudding. My wife is now going through the process of getting the last few units on her master's, and it has been an administrative nightmare and just plain crazy.

Ridiculous turns and twists have been put in her path, for no reason, contrary to published rules and regulations. None of the administrative staffers seem to know the rules, and none of them seem to care. There appears to be little coordination, courtesy or competence. Counselors do not have telephones, appointments are not kept by counselors with students, ad nauseum.


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