UCF instituted a process this fall in order for students to receive financial aid. The process outlines that professors must document students’ academically engagement in courses during the first week of class, or students will be in danger of not receiving financial aid.
Knight News investigated the new process and policy issued by the Federal Government and found out that the change was a direct result of UCF having to pay back $1 million to the U.S. Department of Education.
According to UCF officials, a state audit was conducted on the university and found that UCF wasn’t in compliance with federal regulations governing student aid and instructed the university to return $1 million of federal funding.
“UCF made the decision to return $1 million and not to ask students, who UCF wasn’t able to verify were in class, to return their financial aid money,” Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, senior communications coordinator for UCF, said. “We instituted the process this fall and have been communicating it and the federal policy to students so they are educated about it.”
Officials say the $1 million came from non-recurring reserve funds, and assured the money wouldn’t be coming out of UCF’s budget.
“This is money set aside to handle situations that arise unexpectedly,” Kotala said.
Kotala said that the UCF faculty understand the importance of the new financial aid process and believes they will fully support the new change and in the event a professor doesn’t comply with the new process change UCF will work to make sure students aren’t negatively affected.
“In the event a faculty member does not comply and it negatively impacts a student’s ability to receive their full federal aid package, we pledge to work with both the student and faculty member to address any concerns that arise,” Kotala said.
Kotala said that this process is set to ensure that students are successful during their time in college.
“Research strongly suggests that academic engagement and the early connections that students make with faculty are some of the key ingredients for student success,” Kotala said.