Computer glitch delays financial aid paymentsgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
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Computer glitch delays financial aid payments SEPT. 3 - A computer glitch is delaying financial aid checks to students at the Hutchinson and Willmar campuses of Ridgewater College and other colleges in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system.
But students can apply at the counselors' offices for small interest-free loans of up to $250 to help them pay for bills that may be due now.
"This is the first time in my 27 years in working with the college that we've not been able to make disbursements of financial aid on time, and it's a very frustrating situation,'' said Garey Knudsen, Ridgewater vice president of student services. He was reached at his office in Hutchinson on Thursday morning.
Classes at Ridgewater began Aug. 23 and a considerable number of students have applied for the loans.
"We're just basically going day by day,'' he said.
The problem was caused by a software transition last spring that was to have let MnSCU colleges operate the student information program from the campuses rather from MnSCU's computer mainframe, explained Knudsen.
Problems were detected when tests and delivery began last April, "and they've tried to do fixes ever since and they ran into problems and it seems like they get one problem fixed and then another problem pops up,'' said Knudsen.
"I can't tell you what's wrong with the system because they can't tell us what's wrong with the system. We lose students. Data is corrupted. Files are corrupted,'' he said.
The software company from California has flown people to Minnesota to help get the problems ironed out, he said. "But the frustrating part for my staff has been it seems that they get one thing worked out and then another problem pops up.''
He said Mankato State University, which is part of MnSCU, is being fixed and Ridgewater is next in line, but Knudsen doesn't know when that will be.
About 85 percent of Ridgewater students receive aid in the form of government loans and grants, which can't be disbursed right now. The college has 2,100 students, of which 1,304 are freshmen. About two-thirds of the total attend the Willmar campus and one-third attend the Hutchinson campus.
Knudsen said students "have been really good'' about the problem. "Obviously, if students that are dependent upon that financial aid, and when they don't get the cash and don't have the cash flow to pay their bills, things get pretty tight,'' he said.
The University of Minnesota also is having difficulty getting financial aid checks to students, due to problems associated with the recent conversion to new student information software.
The problem has been publicized, "but that's a different situation'' because the programs and companies are not the same, according to Knudsen. It's just a coincidence that both problems are happening at the same time, he said.
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