Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Financial roadblocks and detours…

Dustin Seelinger

A chump's change

A chump's change


I’m currently going through some issues with financial aid for this semester. It’s nothing that cannot be fixed and in fact, I am currently in the middle of fixing. My original plan for the semester was to stick to my Stafford loans and a Grad Plus to cover my bill. At the beginning of the semester the department approached me to see if I wanted to take a Federal Worst Study (FWS) position that they had open. After much consideration, I decided to take it.
The hard thing about making the decision came in that I had already received my return on my financial aid. In order to be eligible to receive the FWS funds, I had to reduce my Grad Plus loans to make room in my budget for the year. I was in a financial position that made the most sense to consider my return as an upfront payment of my FWS paychecks. In other words, I would pay back everything I earned from work study to pay off the balance on my account. Everyone assured me that this would be ok.

The problem first started creeping up when I was only able to secure ten hours a week with how my school and outside schedules were shaping up. The budget adjustment accounted for twenty. After a month in, and receiving my first paycheck, it was now obvious that the plan was not going to work. By a long shot.

Thus began my struggles to fix this. Fixing it has not been all that hard, just arduous. The first step was to acknowledge my mistake. That given my circumstances, Federal Work Study was not that viable an option. My wife and I are both full time graduate students with two small children. We have a very scheduled lifestyle. There just wasn’t enough wiggle room to make it work. The next step was meeting with Student Financial Services. They let me know how to reapply for my grad plus loans and that I would need to submit a letter stating my intentions. This was followed with a meeting with my advisor/department head to discuss what had gone wrong. Now the waiting starts. Student Financial Services needs to review the account and sort it out.

The moral of the story…well, there are few actually…

1) You need to make sure that you are picking the best plan to finance your education. Yes, not having to pay back a chunk of my education debt would have been great, but making the decision that late was a huge mistake. There’s a good plan for everyone and this just wasn’t going to be mine this year.

2) Don’t panic when you hit a roadblock; there is always a way around. There are people at Columbia College Chicago that are here to help you. Myself included. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a week or two to fix things either.

3) It all works out in the end.

3.5) Oh, and blow off any aggression in your studio. This sort of thing can make you extra productive.

Financial roadblocks and detours…

I’m currently going through some issues with financial aid for this semester. It’s nothing that cannot be fixed and in fact, I am currently in the middle of fixing. My …

Interdisciplinary Book & Paper Arts MFA Dustin Seelinger, dustin.seelinger@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience