Just out of reach


More than a month past SAIT’s winter tuition deadline, some students are still trying to get their government loan money.

Although first-year business administration student Sinith Luk believes he has completed all the necessary steps for loans, he still hasn’t received the deposit into his bank account.

“I gave [the government] a void cheque,” he said. “I did the last step and I was supposed to receive it, but I didn’t get it yet. I’m still waiting.”

Second-year business administration student Nilofar Souri was told her loan application had been reassessed, and that she would only receive one third of what she had been expecting.

Her father, who also pays for her sister and brother’s post-secondary, made too much money for her to claim the amount she needed.

“Whatever he makes, he has to give to us for tuition, and my books are so expensive this time too,” she said.

This type of reassessment is made on occasion, usually to offset changes or updates to students’ financial conditions, said Government of Alberta public affairs officer Suzana Krpan.

“Each student loan situation is unique. So reassessments could occur if there had been some changes in students’ eligibility,” she said.

However, most students should have had their loans go through without issue.

Kent Restall of SAIT’s student loans office said he has not seen any remarkable increase in the number of students requesting help to resolve concerns with their government loans this semester.

“If you looked at our numbers from September, for example, we probably had 2,500 students get loans in Alberta and probably over 2,000 of them went through and were fine. There’s always that margin of error,” he said.

Restall also said a number of loan errors or issues are both common and avoidable.

For example, students will sometimes forget a signature, send documents to the wrong address, or change their enrolment status.

“I’ve seen that one happen a fair bit,” he said. “If a student was going to be in professional cooking, and then they got a last minute offer to be in baking and pastry arts, the computer looks at the program they originally had their loan for, sees that its not the same as the program they’re in… and cancels their loan.”

Restall said students can avoid these types of issues by checking the status of their loan regularly until their tuition is paid or the money is deposited in their bank account.

“Stay on it and monitor things until you actually have money in your hands. Only at that point do you know that it’s good. You should be that way for each semester that you’re here.”

Restall also recommended updating the government with any changes to your program, your full-time status, your income, or other relevant information; reading all loan documents carefully; and asking for help if you’re confused about process, status, or eligibility.

Students still struggling with student loan issues are encouraged to visit SAIT Student Services or call the Student Funding Contact Centre in Edmonton at 1-800-222-6485.

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February 9, 2012