A change in policy is being suggested to the administration when it comes to the book line of credit students are given at the bookstore. This change in policy would slow down the misuse of those funds by students who are strapped for cash.
At the beginning of the semester people on financial aid have to wait until the end of the fourth week of class before their financial aid is deposited into their accounts. Those students have to buy books and supplies so the school offers a book line of credit at the bookstore. This is money that comes out of their financial aid. They can get all the supplies, books, and SPC gear they want.
The bookstore sells everything from high end headphones for $300.00, to netbooks for over $400.00, various printers under $100.00, to software titles ranging from $75.00 to over $300.00, and even XBOX Gold memberships for around $100.00. Those who have credit left over after buying books and supplies can still use that credit on things they may not need so much. So what does a student on financial aid do at the beginning of the semester when they are strapped for cash? Some get part time jobs, some beg the parents for a little help, but some on the other hand find unique ways turning their book line of credit into cash.
A student named Josh G. stated “I once took a printer to Wal-Mart and returned it.” He got a gift card, not cash, and he used it for food. Although not legal he did get what he wanted in the end. He also said “Students buy phones and cards with minutes on them to return. I have also heard of other students doing the same thing with other items.”He said, like the other students I know who rely solely on financial aid; the beginning of the semester is the time when finances are tight.”
Another student named Jason C. stated, “I personally work a job 35 hours a week and go to school 3/4 time. I have never thought about doing that. Everything in there is high price. But I see where someone could be put in the position, but that is wasted money. I try to save money or at least spend it wisely.”
When asked, Jasmine Carter, former President of the Downtown Campus Student Government Association stated “The SGA is in talks to allow the book line of credit to be used at the cafeteria. This would allow for students who need access to food at the beginning of the semester to utilize the services provided”
Flint Thorton, Director of SPC bookstores states “Any questions would need to be in writing and reviewed by the administration’s public relation department before he could give a statement. They need to make sure they are “on message”.”
Jerrold Cade, Counselor at the downtown campus stated “Financial aid has become an incentive as opposed to a tool. Financial aid is to help students pay for school and help them get a degree, not to buy toys, gadgets, and senseless items.”
John Pecora, Interim President of Downtown SGA stated “This is the type of issue that SGA is eager to tackle. Student Government is the liaison between the student and the administration. There is definitely a bureaucracy within the administration. When it comes to the bookstore, Follett makes the decision on what is sold. When it comes to how the book line of credit is used, the administration decides within the bylaws set in place. Decisions that are made by the administration have to go through the trustees and the trustees have to adhere to the bylaws set by the charter.” He also stated “The downtown campus is expanding, adding a new library, café, and bookstore. He was not sure if the use of book line of credit would be expanded at that campus.” Lastly he stated “This issue would be perfect for a college-wide survey so students can voice their concerns, and help the administration see what the needs of the students are.”
The common thread in the discussion with John and Jason was they both expressed the need for discipline when it comes to money matters. They both stressed the importance of stretching their money. They saw that financial aid was something not to be squandered. They also knew that in the end if a student did waste their book line of credit to pawn something, they were losing money in the end. If they had only budgeted properly, they would not be in this situation. On the other hand Josh expressed the need to have access to funds earlier. He agreed that a change in policy was the only solution.
With campuses expanding, the need for change in the policy when it comes to the book line of credit is evident. Educating students alone on financial prudence is not enough. Making sure that each student has access to the things that are important; books, supplies, and food, should be paramount.
Submitted by Robert Thompson