What’s The Hold Up: A Look Into the Refund Check Process

The MSU Spokesman

Every school year Morgan students await the bittersweet treat of their student loan—a refund check. Students use the excess money as income for the school year, yet many complain that the whole refund process seems arbitrary and erratic.

“I rely on my refund check to pay for books and help out with groceries,” says Morgan senior Angela Alston. “I feel like the check should already be available by the time school starts, it’s the main way I fund my lifestyle in school.” According to the Federal Reserve Bank, between 2005 and 2012 student loan borrowers has increased by 66 percent.

There are three types of loans based on income and credit rating; federal direct loans like Parent PLUS, Perkins Loans and Stafford Loans which are based off credit. Then there are subsidized and unsubsidized loans that are awarded based on the information completed on Free Application for Federal Aid (FASFA). Finally there are alternative loans. Popular alternative loans include Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo. Morgan’s loan office accepts loans, processes it and then works out the technical aspect of disbursing the loan.

And dispersing it is confusing. One check comes in for all loans that are accepted every Tuesday and Thursday. The loan office then alerts the comptroller’s office and Bursars office. The comptroller’s office releases the remaining amount of leftover loan. Money is sent to the students account to pay for tuition, meal plans, room and board and other fees the student may have, and a refund check comes from Morgan’s account.

The refund check status typically revolves around the federal direct or alternative loan and the subsidized loan. According to the loan office, unsubsidized loans are not put through the system until subsidized loans are complete. These loans are processed after they are approved, but Matthew Hershberger, director of the loan office says each loan requires a different process which may delay when students receive their refund. “Some loans have requirements, like the parent PLUS loan which requires a promissory note,” says Hershberger.

Parent PLUS has had a few technical glitches this year. “This year a lot of students had a credit system that was once denied and now is approved, and sometimes we have issues of linking that approval to the loan which takes time to get that to work and fix, which does put off time to get that refund,” says Hershberger.

Other factors delaying the process are fluctuating budget refund numbers due to scholarships that arrive when the semester has already begun and added or dropped classes. Many students believe staff contributes to a slow process, as well.

“I think they just sit there and don’t do anything, you have to go there in person. I had a scholarship come in and it was never applied to my bill,” says Morgan senior Matthew Cottle. “My schedule was dropped because they never applied the scholarship to my bill. It delayed my refund check and I couldn’t pay my rent, so I was fined.”

Hershberger says students often call the loan office and Bursars office stressed about financial issues that require aid from the refund check. He urges students to be patient. “It’s a large process, it’s not just a simple ‘hey here you go here’s your check.’”

The Bursars office website allows students to track the location of their refund check without the hassle of traveling to the loan office. “We want students to use the computer to their advantage,” says University Bursar Moni Tenabe.

Tenabe says the office is in the process of installing an e-refund for the spring semester which will speed up the process by directly deposit the check into students’ account.