Fordham Financial Aid: The Sound and the Fury

GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATION BY LARA FOLEY/THE OBSERVER

By ANNA MONEYMAKER, Staff Writer

In front of Lincoln Center stands a statue of St. Ignatius in a quaint park. He benevolently watches over all those who love and love to create art. Just one block away, Fordham students are often engaged in quests similar to his devout journey. 

Halfway through my time here at Fordham, I found myself needing to change my permanent address because my parents moved. 

I had a feeling I could take care of it online but wanted to call Fordham’s Financial Aid office to make sure that it would be effective and my parents could receive their billing statements and pay their indulgences. 

“No, no,” the woman on the phone assured me. “You’ve got to come in and physically hand in the form.” Just like that, I had arrived in limbo. Financial Aid staff on the phone, unclear of what was true or not, uninformed and ignorant yet somehow blameless — like the virtuous pagans who never knew Christ. Are they wrong in their actions? Maybe. But worthy of eternal hellfire? Maybe not. 

Skeptical, I moved onward with my journey.

The Financial Aid office, located on the polished, sterile, newly renovated second floor of Lowenstein. An inscription above the office read “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” I clutched my bag and swallowed nervously. I had entered into the bowels of Fordham Bureaucracy.

I approached the woman behind the counter, a poor sinner covered in chains with an enormous boulder that she is damned to carry around eternally. “Here!” she hissed as she handed me the proper forms. “Fill this out, wench!” I did, quickly, and handed it back. She peered over it, looked at me and stamped it. “It is done!” she spat. 

I thanked her and left as fast as I could, avoiding eye contact with the god of the underworld, Pluto. 

Except, two weeks after I changed my address, no mail was coming to my parents’ home. My mother was calling me, confused and worried — “Where are the billing statements? I’m not getting any mail.” I sighed heavily before I assured her I would see what went wrong. 

Typical. I begrudgingly went back into the Financial Aid office again to ask if everything had gone through. The poor woman behind the desk looked more confused than me. She, after all, was the one who took my form and inputted all my information. 

I waited 15 minutes before slipping into the office of Academic Records. Darkness shrouded several lost souls, sitting behind computers, wailing to be released from their torment. I politely explained the situation  to the staff member with sunken eyes and dull expression. 

They took my student ID number down and then commanded me to sit and wait. I waited for about four minutes among the lost souls before the staff member came back to the front desk.

She looked at me and let out a maniacal laugh. Lightning cracked as her eyes rolled into the back of her head, and demons danced around her in circles. I felt like I was sinking into the ground. She looked at me, eyes completely black now and spoke to me in what sounded like a thousand voices. They simply said:

“Fool! You have to do it online!”

This account of my experience with the Financial Aid office is not even the most frustrating one. There was a time when, while I was on the phone with them trying to ask a question, they gave me false information about my account. Once, they charged my friend $75 for no reason and when confronted simply said, “Oh, my bad, that’s just a mistake.” What would’ve happened if she didn’t ask? She would have been fined for no reason at all.

No, this wasn’t the worst. But it was exceptionally emblematic.

This scenario captures a larger picture of what it is like trying to accomplish a normally quick and easy task at Fordham. It reveals that we Rams are simply sliding through the Jesuit digestive tract of bureaucracy, our spirits slowly being corroded by the pungent, acidic bile of miscommunication and incompetence, only to be discharged into a cesspool of hopeless (and in my case, mail-less) students, too tired to fight back.

I know each and every one of you has experienced this to a varying degree. I am here to say that I’m sorry and that you’re not alone.

I am also here to say that Fordham costs $54,000 a year to attend; maybe they should start acting like it.