Sunday, July 24, 2005

It's Hard Enough Being a Returning Student

July 24, 2005
Robin's commentary

Feeling like the proverbial ping-pong ball!

2003 was a year for massive layoffs in Eugene/Springfield area myself included when the company that I had worked for eight years close its doors forever. Because the company moved out of the area, we were classified as dislocated workers and became eligible to return to school under a state program called SUD from the politically incorrect "unemployment office" which allowed us to return to school for retraining instead of looking for work.

Therefore, at the age of 48, I decided to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to return to school and getting a degree, as did about two-dozen of my fellow coworkers.

Never in my life would anything have prepared me for the nightmare that was before me.

For the first three months, everything went beautifully. My advisor and I had laid out a plan that within two years I would be leaving with a dual degree in computers and networking however, that was all about to change.

30 years later, I am being penalized because I went to school at Lane community college and earned 65 credits, which LCC refers to as "the maximum credit limit".

They defined the maximum credit limit as the maximum lifetime credits allowed for a particular degree. For a two-year college like Lane, it is 150 "attempted" credits for a two-year program, [link] U of O 180 "attempted" credits for a four year program. the definition of "lifetime attempted credits" is any credit course that you have taken is counted whether you got a grade, past the course, or... the point is, it was "attempted"

So that included my credits from 1975, any credit course that I took at LCC for continuing education or at my job, if they had LCC come on-site and offer instruction, (I took two courses in Excel) all are counted as "attempted credits".

Due to a glitch in the computer system, (as told by the financial aid office) I received notification that I was approaching the maximum credit limit six months before I should have.

Not knowing what this is all about, I asked my advisor who automatically went in to automatic "file an appeal mode".

When you file an appeal, the adviser has to lay out a "plan" for your education for the next couple of years. Part of the rules for this, is you are only allowed to work towards one degree.

So, so much for my beautifully laid out dual degree plan. I asked my advisor later on why I was not informed ahead of time that that I will be running into this issue. He informed me that advisers are were instructed not to talk about this issue when planning a student schedule because it was impossible for them to keep up with all the financial aid requirements.

The appeal was decided in my favor and a new schedule is set forth. Thinking now that at least as far as financial aid is concerned; things should be fairly smooth from now on.

WRONG!!!

When I finally got over the fact that I'm going to be in huge debt over education, I decided why not continue on to a four-year college and get a bachelor's degree while I have the opportunity. Therefore, I registered at the University of Oregon and became what is called "dual enrollment". This allows me to finish the six remaining classes at LCC while at the same time start working on classes for my bachelor's requirement at both colleges.

For most folks, this is a great idea. However, I went to college at LCC in 1975.

Kudos to the University of Oregon when they decide to audit my transcripts and disallow 50 of my credits. YEAH! Good riddance.

That reduced my 120 credits down to 70 credits. I was excited in the fact that my credits were brought down to a normal student range and I could continue my education without any more complications.
The U of O reminded me that I will have to file another appeal in a terms because I will reach their maximum credit limit at 180 credits, however, at least this time they told me upfront to expected it.

Since I have been there before, I was not too concerned about it.

A new and unusual anomaly surfaced.

When a dual enrolled student reaches 90 credits, their financially aid is handled by the University of Oregon.

LCC says that I have 120 credits and says that University of Oregon should handle my financial aid and withdrew all financial aid offerings.

U of O says that I have 70 credits after they disallowed 50 of them and says that LCC should handle my financial aid until I reach that 90 credits mark [again?] Then the U of O will administer my financial aid. U of O is reevaluating my financial aid eligibility at this time..

Not the meantime, while these two colleges are battling out on who gets the privilege of administrating my financial aid, I have lost a lot of time from my studies and gain tremendous stress having to deal with this issue.

All because I went to school in 1975 and earned 65 college credits.

The saga continues...

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