Students Struggle With Burden of Financial Debt

Kara Aranas

Debt is one of the biggest problems college students face today, and paying for a community college is no exception.

Just because a junior college is cheaper than a university does not mean that financial problems do not become an issue. Debt can get in the way of a student’s education and may cause problems for their future if no solution is found.

Students stumble across this obstacle in community colleges and at times feel that they find no relief from it.

One incident happened to Armen Sarkisyan, a business major, when he registered for his classes. He had signed up for a math class, which he needed in order to transfer, and was unable to pay within the seven days required in order to be enrolled. As a result of not being able to pay his fees on time, he was dropped from the class and was not able to enroll again by the time he could afford it because it was full.

“I was frustrated but what could I do?” said Sarkisyan. “I just had to wait until the following semester to take the class again.”

Sieyouneh Ziraky, a returning student who is currently working on her bachelor’s degree who faced a similar problem said, “I think it is completely unfair because students like myself who are unable to pay for classes on time should still be able to get in by the time school is in session.”

Ziraky suggested that there should be a “grace period” granted for those who cannot pay their tuition on time. “If I’m not able to pay [the tuition], it becomes a hassle to wait for the next semester the class is offered and it extends the amount of time I would have to spend [at GCC] and delay my transfer.”

Unknown to most students, there are remedies to their problem. College students do not always have the means to pay for the classes essential to their education and at times need some type of payment plan established to help them. It is inconvenient for those already enrolled to have a class dropped because the amount due cannot be paid on time. Luckily, there is a solution.

A payment plan is made available to all students that cannot pay by the tuition deadline. Director of Financial Aid, Pat Hurley explained, “The college contracts a program called FACTS that allows students to pay their fees over the semester.” She explained that it is an online payment option where students can pay their dues in installments. The information for this plan can be found online on the college’s home page.

Another option when facing a problem is to talk to the Dean of Admissions, Sharon Combs. When asked what the college does to help students who are unable to pay for their tuition, she explained that there is a certain amount of money that a student needs to owe before he/she is stopped from being enrolled in a class. “I don’t think I want that amount published,” said Combs.

Although she did not want to reveal the amount, she claims that situations such as the ones previously mentioned do not usually occur because the school tries to accommodate each student’s situation. She added that if a student came to them and explained the predicament, then they would try to help them out.

Amir Nour, District Accountant for Glendale College tried to clarify how the admission tries to work with students who are liable.
“For each individual basis we try to see what the problem is,” said Nour. According to Nour, the school tries not to turn any student away and that it tries to help them through the individual difficulties they experience.

He added that it is the same with all students, including international students. Even though Combs mentioned that there was a certain amount needed before they stopped a student from registering, Nour said that there is no established limit and again reiterated that the school tries not to “turn students away.”