Protest Hunter College's mismanagement of student loans
Dear President Raab,
We are the over 600 Social Work students in the class of 2014 who have been negatively impacted by your administration’s inefficiency and the poorly implemented switch to the CUNYfirst system. Though we chose the Silberman School of Social Work over other top-rated programs because of its excellent reputation, our treatment from your administration has led many of us to regret our decision.
To briefly summarize the background you already know, we diligently submitted our student loan applications before the summer deadline, confident that our loans would be processed before the school year began. However, as summer wore on and August arrived, we began to realize that our financial aid accounts did not reflect the scheduled disbursements.
One by one, we followed up with the Financial Aid office (they did no work to reach us individually), and learned that for many of us, our loan applications had been “shredded” and we would need to resubmit our documents. Apparently, the CUNYfirst system was so highly flawed that the entire School of Social Work was considered academically ineligible to receive aid. We had to become academically approved by submitting yet another form to an entirely different office before being reentered into your system. Meanwhile, your school did no outreach to inform us about what was happening, and you admitted no errors.
Though frustrated and concerned about our financial wellbeing as the school year began, we accepted the CUNYfirst glitch that caused our large-scale “shredding” in stride, and we tolerantly resubmitted our applications. For some of us, however, the situation had already reached a boiling point. Some students report submitting their applications multiple times to no avail, waiting hours on hold or in person with the financial aid office, and dealing with employees who seemed to know less about their loans than the students themselves did.
Exacerbating these frustrations, without their federal loans, students found themselves unable to pay their rent. Some students have taken out private loans with astronomical interest rates, while others have begged personal loans from family or friends. Some students are very seriously considering dropping out of your program; we have no choice without money to eat or live. Still, the Hunter Office of Financial Aid has given us no response when we’ve asked for assistance.
It is now October. Our loans have still not arrived. Some intrepid students have discovered that emergency loans are available and have begun to spread the news amongst their peers. It is through this personal network, and not through Hunter College itself, that some of us are still able to attend school.
We understand that no single individual is responsible for the malfunctioning of an entire bureaucracy. However, it is your responsibility as administrators of the College to assure that your students’ needs are taken care of. As of yet, you have made no real headway to resolve our issues, and we will not accept your complacency any longer. Particularly insulting is your silence—at least acknowledge your mistake so we don’t feel so tremendously disrespected.
With this letter, we request that you:
1. Issue an official apology to the entire Silberman School of Social Work, acknowledging your administration’s errors and our subsequent maltreatment.
2. Adjust your internal policies to create a better system of communication and accountability so students are informed of the issues that concern them.
3. Fix the CUNYfirst system immediately so we can continue to be enrolled in your program and graduate as scheduled.
4. Assure that this mistake never happens ever again.
5. Reduce our tuition in compensation for what you have put us through.
We trust that with these words, we will be heard courteously and respectfully, as we will not be ignored any longer. We are proud to be Hunter students, and we deeply value our education; however, unless our loan problems are resolved and apologies are issued, you are at serious risk of losing the students that give your school the renowned name that it holds.
The Silberman School of Social Work, Class of 2014
cc: Dean Mondros, Assistant Dean Rudich