Students receive notice of remaining balance for Spring 2022 fees in error

The Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships told some students that financial aid, scholarships and loans were distributed on Jan. 19 after the notice, alleviating the remaining balance error.

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Emery Little

Students walking on campus, as photographed on Nov. 9, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Rachael Perrotta, News Editor

UPDATE: This piece was updated at 11:30 p.m. CST on Jan. 19 to reflect a comment from the Office of Student Accounts.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. CST, some students received an email from the Office of Student Accounts notifying them of a remaining balance in their account, despite a number of recipients having paid their Spring 2022 tuition and fees by the Dec. 31 deadline. The office clarified in an email at approximately 4:30 p.m. CST that the initial notice was sent in error.

We have since determined that your financial aid award was not being taken into consideration at that time [of the initial email], the second email reads. Please disregard our previous email as it was sent to you in error.

The incorrect remaining balance appeared to be the amount each student receives in financial aid and merit scholarships. Students’ Billing Portals showed a record of their Spring 2022 fee payment directly above the seemingly-incorrect remaining balance.

Unfortunately, if your account has not been paid by January 31, you may not be permitted to register for additional courses, and access to your Commodore Cash can be prohibited until your account is paid,” the initial email reads.

Junior Laney Moyers said in a message to The Hustler that she was worried about the status of her aid after receiving the email. Moyers is a member of FirstVU, a student group for first-generation college students at Vanderbilt. 

“Seriously heart stopping,” Moyers said. “I thought I had done something wrong and gotten my financial aid taken away.”

Some students reported not receiving the email, most of whom do not receive financial aid or scholarships. First-year Ryan Zix said he did not receive the email, but that he is a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship. Other students did not receive an email but still noticed the incorrect remaining balance on their Billing Portal.

Senior Tyjah Johnson said his friend who works in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships told him that the situation arose from a system error while distributing aid. The Office of Student Accounts confirmed in a 6:18 p.m. CST statement sent to The Hustler that a technical issue caused the mistake.

While this was an unfortunate mistake, it is important to note that no late penalties were assessed to any students as a result of this erroneous communication,” the statement reads. We apologize for any confusion and/or inconvenience this error may have caused and thank students for their patience.

An email obtained by The Hustler from a financial aid officer at 3:30 p.m. CST confirmed that aid was distributed this afternoon and that accounts should now show an accurate balance. In another email obtained by The Hustler, the Office of Financial Aid said aid, scholarships and loans are being distributed today and should be completed by tomorrow.

This piece will be updated as more information becomes available.