By Zahirah Benjamin
This article is exclusive to the online Edition 1 of VARSITY Newspaper.
UCT’s financial aid department has a reputation among students for being unresponsive and difficult to communicate with. VARSITY investigated this reputation by approaching the Financial Aid office for comment on the matter. However, the only response was that they were too busy to respond, and when visiting the office, the same response was given. In light of this, VARSITY interviewed three randomly selected students, who are supported by financial aid, in a Q&A style, to find out what they think of these allegations.
Three Financial Aid Students
Student A – Anon, 3rd year Humanities
Student B – Nicole, 2nd year Humanities EDU
Student C – Sive, final year Science
How long have you been on Financial Aid and what have your experiences been thus far? (Negative and Positive)
A. I have been on fin aid for two years. I have not had any bad experiences; the staff have been helpful and approachable
B. This is my second year on fin aid. I have experienced a bit of both. In terms of logistics, last year was hectic, but I felt that the signing of loan agreements ran smoothly. For me personally, my application experience was stressful and confusing as the online application did not work, so I ended up doing it manually.
C. Three years. It’s been a great journey. I just had to pass in order to ensure that I continued my education.
What does it mean to be a student supported by Financial Aid at UCT?
A. The benefit is that my mother does not need to pay and if I weren’t able to get financial aid or receive a bursary I would most likely would not be able to attend university.
B. I am on Gap Funding so half of my tuition fees are paid, so I don’t get all the benefits of a fully funded student, but there are benefits like not having to pay for registration fees or the increases.
C. Having to pass 50% of my course load, to me, was a good thing because it meant that I don’t necessarily have to pay directly from my pocket to repeat a course. I didn’t have to worry about paying fees upfront and worrying about getting charged interest for late payment.
How has the department management been for you? Have you experienced good or bad services when you needed to enquire about something?
A. The department has been very helpful. Most of the information is online so most questions are answered by the Front Desk at the office and they respond to my emails.
B. Every time I went to the office they were willing to help and answer my questions. They communicated information quite well. To be honest, I would go to the office before midday so I am not sure how things are once the office gets really busy.
C. Well, I don’t recall having any technicalities. I kept the end part of my deal, and so did they. So, no, no bad encounters. They are quite nice actually, especially the guy in the front desk.
The results of this investigation show that the personal experiences of these three students do not reach the level of reputation that the financial aid department is notorious for holding. While this is not an exhaustive sample, and coupled with the fact that the department was too busy to answer VARSITY’s questions, the results indicate that the Financial Aid Department is extremely busy, but overall is functioning effectively.