By: Ahmed Refai
Over 3,000 students have applied for financial aid or a reconsideration of their financial aid award this semester, according to Executive Director of Financial Aid Sohair Saad.
The September 14 deadline was the last chance for students to apply for aid or a reconsideration appeal of their existing awards for the fall semester.
Earlier in August, the Student Union (SU) held a forum to discuss the hike in tuition fees, and different strategies that an angry student body would employ to protest. However, talks and efforts of opposition have considerably died down.
“We held negotiations because we wanted to know whether or not students were able to pay. What we found is that the financial aid fixed the issue for a lot of people,” SU President Mohamed Gadalla said.
“We made sure that all cases got a fair amount of financial aid,” he added.
Gadalla said that the SU is “digging deep” into whether there were students who were not able to cover their tuition, but that no such cases came forth to the SU.
Executive Director of the Office of Student Financial Affairs and Scholarships Sohair Saad said that many students who have complained about difficulties in covering the tuition fees never applied for financial aid, or missed the deadlines.
“They tell us ‘I cannot pay,’ but if you really are in [such] need … then you should have been alert to financial aid deadlines, and you should have applied.”
A photo posted on the popular social media student group Rate AUC Professors on August 25 depicted a group of AUC students posing in front of the Cairo University dome, with a caption that read “Due to the tuition increase: Goodbye AUC and welcome Cairo University.”
The photo – posted by Jamila A. Sadek, later revealed to be sarcastic–turned into a forum for students discussing, and poking fun at the issue.
“Three people contacted me to know details about how to transfer and the papers needed,” Sadek told The Caravan.
Saad said, however, that no student who was previously enrolled has had to discontinue their education at AUC because their financial aid award was insufficient.
“We don’t have anyone who left AUC because of financial aid,” Saad said.
Students who are already on financial aid were given a chance to reapply for a reconsideration of their award. Eligible candidates for reconsideration are those who have experienced a shift in family conditions. Saad said that cases with extreme circumstances such as the death of a parent have received a reduction of up to 80 percent.
“We have received over 300 appeals. We should be giving decisions on the appeals by the 26th of September,” Saad added.
“I did not get any complaints that a student was not able to pay tuition,” Ghada Abdel Rahman, assistant dean of students, told The Caravan.
The Caravan reached out to Dean of Students George Marquis, who has since then been unavailable for comment.
The SU is currently in talks with the Office of Student Engagement (OSE) to set up an SU merit-based scholarship.
According to Gadalla, the scholarship will be granted to two students, who will be picked based on merit and financial need. However, the Union is still in talks with the OSE about the terms of eligibility.
The SU is using profits made from selling commencement tickets to fund the scholarship.
“We have received EGP 45,000 in profits this semester. We are currently working with the OSE and will make an announcement soon,” Gadalla said.