I started to attend SJ in August of 2004. I had one previous semester of college under my belt, but I was not very sophisticated when it came to financial aid. I knew enough to know that because I had a single mother, and because we were, as a family, not even making close to the federal poverty level, my financial aid would cover all of my expenses, and I should receive a refund. Below, see a list of my expenses (roughly) and my aid I received (roughly)
Personal Expenses incl. travel: 1000
Room/Board scholarship (SJ): 3000
Academic Scholarship (SJ): 1000
Now, as you can see my expenses were $9650 for one semester. My Financial Aid was $14000 for that same semester. When I questioned this with Brian Chamberlain, he informed me that this additional aid would be refunded to me and I could use it to get a computer for classes (as SJ computers were about as dysfunctional as can be) and supplement my family income since I was no longer contributing to it (being in school and all). I questioned whether or not it would have any effect on future aid, he stated a firm and solid "No." I asked if I would get the same amounts every semester. He informed me that yes, I would.
So, when my refund check for $4000 came, I bought a modest laptop and I sent the rest home to hep my family. About a month later, in a scandal to end all scandals (up until then) SJ tried to fire Brian Chamberlain for misspending federal financial aid funds only to find he had already fled on the early a.m. plane.
And then the second shoe fell. I was called into the office and told that not only would I have to repay my refund, which was out of my means as I was not working at the time (focusing on my education and all), but I would also lose my scholarships because they were not "authorized"
Now, I ask you, if none of this was authorized, why did my check contain the signature of the then current CFO, Len? Did he not question this? Does the school have no responsibility to take the fall for those that they hire?
All of my future bills showed a past due balance of $4000. At one point I signed a payment plan because I was told if I did not sign it, I could not continue to go to school there. I was desperate not to be kicked out, so I signed it. It had me paying all of the amount due in less than six months. I paid what I could, but was unable to complete it. It was nearly a year ago that I learned that what they had done was illegal under federal laws. I contested the bill and they never responded, except to send me more bills.
As of August 20th, I spoke with the head accountant at SJ (Debby). She informed me that if I did not pay in full by October 20th, I would be turned over to collection (don't even get me started about SJ not paying their debts to their faculty and students... someone should turn them into collections). On October 10th, they turned over the account. A full ten days earlier than promised, or allowed. They also turned over my account while it was in dispute, which is illegal.
I plan on fighting this, but I am just so sick of SJ, they should not be allowed to do this! Where is the justice?
Oh, and for those who might think this is just a fluke...check the news. SJC closed on June 29th, giving faculty and staff one days' notice, canceling all benefits, and they still have not paid back taxes, wages, or anything else owed to anyone of their stake holders. Also, the state has pulled their right to operate due to their financial instability.