If you are counting on the assistance of Salt Lake Community College’s (SLCC) Financial Aid Office to pay for your higher education – consider this your warning to keep your grades up. If you do not, you could lose that financial help. If you do lose your eligibility for financial aid, there is a process in place to have it restored, but that process is done behind closed doors and you are not invited.
How could you lose your financial aid? According to the office’s webpage, “The Federal Government requires that Salt Lake Community College have a Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy.”
The requirements of SLCC’s SAP policy are:
• Students must maintain a minimum Cumulative Grade Point Average of 2.0 or higher.
• Students must complete, with passing grades, at least 70 percent of the credit hours they attempt.
• Students must complete their degree within 150 percent of the minimum published hours for the degree.
• Students must be making progress toward completion of their degree.
The Financial Aid Office has a form to accompany the documentation and statements necessary to make a successful appeal. The office’s website has this to say about appeals:
If a student is determined to not be eligible for financial aid under this policy they have the right to appeal that determination. Any such appeal must be made in writing and submitted to the financial aid office. Appeals are reviewed by the Appeals Committee each Wednesday afternoon. Appeals must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on Friday to be reviewed at the next Wednesday meeting.
Upon further investigation, it was confirmed by a staff member of the Financial Aid Office that the Appeals Committee meets behind closed doors and that the activities of the committee, the minutes of the meeting, are not made available to people whose cases are being decided.
It seems entirely reasonable and prudent to conceal the personal and financial details of people discussed in this committee meeting from others whose case is not being decided. It is entirely possible to protect the privacy of people discussed in the meeting, while at the same time granting the subject person access to the meeting during the limited period of time during which the person’s case is being considered.
Salt Lake Community College is a public state college, not a private company, and as such, should be held to a higher standard of openness and accountability. If your financial future is in the balance, do you think you should be able to witness for yourself what the members of this committee have to say about you? Should you be allowed to make a timed verbal statement, as is required by rule in government meetings?
Why exactly is it that students are not allowed to hear their own cases being discussed in this committee? Whose financial interest are the people of the Appeals Committee supporting? It is hard to imagine that they could relate to the situation of people in need of financial aid. It is hard to think that college administrators are not much better off financially than the students they stand in judgment of. It is a shame that they will not let the sun shine on their proceedings for those their decisions are affecting.