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Florida State College at Jacksonville loan repayment plan angers some students

12:16 AM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A petition started last week seeks to hold Florida State College at Jacksonville responsible for awarding students federal financial aid that they did not qualify for.

The petition now has more than 200 signatures. Students are outraged that they are now on the hook for money they have to pay back.
 
"This is pretty much the bill I got and it says I owe over $1,800. This is a small bill compared to that some other people at school are getting," said Maggie Mayschill.

Maggie said she recently got her associate's degree from FSCJ. She is newly married and a new homeowner. While she aspires to be a graphic designer, right now the only thing she can focus on is this bill she said she can't afford to pay.

"As long as this debt is on here, I'm held. You can't take classes. You can't get a diploma. I can't even look at my transcripts as long as that hold is on there. So there's no taking the extra classes to go from an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree at this point," said Mayschill.

Maggie said when she switched majors a few years ago, she had to go back to the Financial Aid Office and didn't realize she was filing an appeal for a Pell Grant.

"I just trusted whatever they told me to do, and fast forward this far in time and I shouldn't have trusted what they told me to do whatsoever. They let things slide. They approved something the government later said shouldn't have been approved and that was really the issue," explained Mayschill.

"I thought it was legitimate. I was told here you go. Here's for your education. I used it toward my education and my classes," said Randy Durden.

Durden is on the hook for about $1,600, a Pell Grant he now knows he shouldn't have received.

"If I filed for an appeal for financial aid, that's neither here nor there. That doesn't say they can still give me the money. They still need to abide by the laws, and if I didn't have the money, I wouldn't be in school and I wouldn't be in this position," said Durden.

Frustrated he started a petition he titled "Hold FSCJ Responsible for their Negligence."

According to the September 2012 Student Academic Progress Appeal Financial Summary, there were 1,648 invalid appeals, students who were given federal financial aid despite not providing proper documentation according to FSCJ. It's money Mayschill says she shouldn't have to pay back.

"The financial officer misfiled; they misdocumented. They didn't provide everything they needed to this is a miscommunication on their part. I think the school needs more liability here," said Mayschill.

"I'm not giving up. That's $1,600 I don't have," said Durden.

FSCJ released a statement on March 1 saying that students would be given a 90-day grace period to work out a payment plan.

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