Federal changes to financial aid leave Idaho's college students frustrated and confused
In three weeks, the College of Western Idaho will welcome its largest class ever – an estimated 9,000 students studying 100 different programs. Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
In three weeks, the College of Western Idaho will welcome its largest class ever – an estimated 9,000 students studying 100 different programs.
Tara Jenkins hoped to join that group, Tuesday, but only if she could correctly her submit her financial aid application. And do so on time.
“It’s confusing,” she said. “If you’re not very self-sufficient and don't know the wording of the documents and paperwork, then you’d be really lost.”
And this wasn’t Tara’s first such deadline. In the spring, financial aid allowed her to complete her first semester of pre-requirements toward a surgical technician’s degree.
“[But this summer] the federal government’s made a change,” CWI Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Student Services, Terry Blom, said.
Every year, the feds randomly select a certain number of financial aid applicants from every school for a process they call “verification.”
“So it’s not saying: We think you cheated or anything,” Blom said. “It’s simply verifying that information on a random basis.”
Before, a student could bring in a copy of her tax records from home. But now, Tara and every other student in America must either digitally link their U.S. income tax records to the application or provide an IRS transcript directly from that agency. That sent Tara to the Idaho State Tax Commission in a state of bewilderment.
“Just a little bit!” Tara said. “It was confusing finding the actual building.”
“I think there’s going to be a lot of confusion about it and there’ll be some hesitancy on some parts of people because there are a lot of us who don’t necessarily like to attach all our records together,” Blom said. “So, for those individuals that’s going to be an issue.”
It will also be a requirement for every student in America who wishes to receive financial aid.
“This is every institution across the country,” Blom said.