js703458

10+ Year Member
May 15, 2008
3
0
Status
Post Doc
It is of great concern to this student that the AUA administration has for a couple of months now failed to meet even the lowest standards expected of an educational institution in communicating with and holding itself accountable to the student body concerning the current financial aid situation. Let me explain...

It is common knowledge that the U.S. is experiencing a credit crunch and that it is very difficult for newer schools to secure private loan providers. I do not fault the school for this as they appear to be working diligently to resolve the situation. What I find thoroughly unacceptable is the complete lack of communication with students or student government, the absence of any official administrative consensus whenever I call or write, and the assumption that we students will bear this burden regardless of the financial and academic difficulties it causes us.

To be more specific: two months ago numerous supervisors at MyMedInvest informed me that they would not be certifying loans to AUA at least one week before AUA informed the student body that they lost their contract. In fact, to my knowledge, no official release ever went out stating that the MyMedInvest loans hadn't been approved. I called the school multiple times only to be reassured that MyMedInvest was wrong, and that I needed a co-signer. Then I was told that I didn't need a co-signer. When I wrote requesting some documentation, I received an email addressed to another student bearing his social security number and personal information. The New York Financial Aid office then based their staff in Antigua in the student lounge for over a week, for the said purpose of applying for the MyMedInvest loan. The three times I went in their network had crashed and I was unable to do so. I then filled out forms for a loan from AUA.

A few days later I was told that the school would provide the loan, but only for tuition, and that I would be responsible for the cost of living, room, board, etc. I called a week later and was told that this was no longer true, that they now had two providers, but that they couldn't release the names of the companies at that time! In the past two months I have called the school and left my contact information over twenty times. Only once was my call returned, I returned it and left a voicemail, which was itself never returned. During registration I applied through Richland Loan Processing Center and found that they charge a $542 processing fee normally applied to government loans, but signed it anyway. I was told to wait two to three weeks for the check to arrive on island.

I called a week later to determine the status of my application and was told that they had no record of me ever applying. I called today, was hung up on three times, connected to the switchboard operator, who told me everyone was going home at 5:00 PM, and transferred to voicemail. The voicemail told that the New York offices are open to 7:00 PM on Thursdays. I attempted to leave a message for someone in Financial Aid but the automated switchboard didn't have extensions for anyone in Financial Aid. Just a few minutes ago I was notified by my co-signer that they didn’t receive the terms and conditions addendum along with their part of their application in the mail.

When I began attending AUA I had many doubts about accreditation, licensing in the states, student services, and accountability on behalf of the administration, as did many other students. Our collective concerns were addressed in a town-hall format meeting attended by the President and the Dean, and facilitated by the Student Government Association. Those who attended walked away informed, confident in their school, and pleased that their problems had significance and deserved address. Perhaps it is time to hold another such forum for the benefit of everyone involved in and or affected by the current student loan crisis. We deserve to know where the next loan will be coming from, what the school's long term financial aid plan is, and AUA's gaurantee that we will be able to complete our medical education through loans rather than out of pocket!

It is in the interest of the school as well as the students to address this issue immediately! American University of Antigua, take some responsibility!