Delay of Student Loan Funding Causes Confusion for KPU Students

The issue, caused by a glitch, will not result in students being charged late fees

KPU says that a delay in the distribution of student loans was due to a computer glitch. (Braden Klassen)

With assignments stacking up and the occasional snow day throwing the city into temporary chaos, nobody needs to worry about being unable to pay their bills mid-semester. Yet, many students were faced with financial uncertainty after a technical glitch prevented student aid money from reaching some of its applicants on time.

While students who applied for full-time loans before Dec. 20 likely received the money prior to the spring semester payment deadline on Jan. 16, tuition is far from the only cost that student aid helps cover.

“I’m a full-time student so I get a full-time loan, which means it covers my living costs,” says Tae Whitehouse, a fourth-year English major.

“I was supposed to get my loan on Jan. 3, so my mom covered my rent for me,” she says. “Then my loan didn’t come through until I think around the 15th, so I couldn’t pay her back, so she couldn’t pay her own bills.”

Whitehouse adds that she was unable to pay for textbooks. Even buying groceries proved challenging while waiting for her funding.

“I was still going to classes, but I didn’t have any of the money to live the rest of my life,” she says.

Other full-time students received partial funding on time, but were left without answers about if and when the remainder of their money would come through.

Rachelle Sayers received a portion of her loan directly to her bank account, but was surprised to find that her student account still showed an unpaid balance despite StudentAidBC reporting that all of her funding had already been sent.

“I thought that if it didn’t come through I would have to pay out of the money that I get personally. I was stressed out about that,” says the fourth-year psychology major.

After being unable to reach a KPU representative via phone, she emailed Student Awards and Financial Assistance and received an auto reply promising an answer in three to five days, which would have come after the payment deadline.

The day before fees were due, Sayers reached a representative of the school who assured her that she didn’t need to worry, and that her tuition payment would be taken care of. But the ordeal was nerve-wracking nonetheless.

“I kind of thought it was inappropriate that they sent emails telling students that it was their last day to make their payment, meanwhile I had nothing to do with making my payment at all,” she says.

The situation has been difficult for those working in Student Awards and Financial Assistance as well. One staff member reported an uptick in phone calls following the sending of tuition-payment warning emails, mostly from students in the same position as Whitehouse and Sayers.

Whitehouse had the same impression regarding her conversation with Student Awards and Financial Assistance.

“I was like, ‘And there’s nothing you can do to help me?’ and she was like, ‘No I’m really sorry.’ She sounded like she had had that call about 20 times that day,” she says.

KPU Media and Communications Manager David Connop-Price said via email that, despite the glitch, full-time loan applicants who applied before Dec. 20 should have received their funding by Jan.15. This date is just one day before the first late fee was applied.

There were 1,308 full-time KPU students who received funding through StudentAidBC — a government-run resource that helps students cover the cost of education — for the Spring 2020 semester, and KPU Media Specialist Sucheta Singh said via email on Feb. 12 that approximately 150 students were “affected” by the glitch in the system.

A staff member from StudentAidBC explained by phone that the issue was related to confirming student enrolment, and said that other major B.C. public schools dealt with the same problem, including Capilano University and SFU.

“Basically, at the end of the whole process for the student loans, right before we release funds, this is the step that Kwantlen would have to confirm that student’s enrolment,” he says.

“So they would log into the system that I can see right in front of me and basically confirm that the student is going to that school, attending full-time classes. Apparently there were some issues confirming that.”

He added that funding went through without issue for some students while others received nothing — for no reason that he could determine.

If you applied for a full or part-time loan and did incur a late fee, you can contact Student Awards and Financial Assistance to sort out the issue.