January 17, 2018

Make transient student rules student-friendly, or I’ll lose my mind!

This first-time college mom is learning something new almost every day about the ins and outs of having a kid in college. And, as you may well know, it isn’t all peaches and cream.

When Amber told me she was going to take classes this past summer at a local college (see: Summer, Summer, Summer Time) here in Atlanta I supported her 100 percent. She had talked to her advisor and determined it would be the best course of action. She did everything necessary to get herself enrolled. In the midst of that and her finals she kept me informed; the first thing I learned was she would be a “transient student.”

As soon as she got home for the summer from GCSU she needed to finalize everything at the “new” school. Almost immediately the first dilemma presented itself: One of her classes was canceled due to low enrollment. Unavoidable, but Amber needed two classes for financial aid.

She contacted her advisor and determined an alternative. All was a go again. All she had to do was re-register (her classes had been dropped by the school) and re-submit some paperwork with the new class information. By this time she had been to the local campus about four times in one week. The fifth time I was with her in the financial aid office when the lady said, ‘Your aide came in; you’re all set.’

The next week, a Monday, Amber went to class and found out she had been dropped again because of non-payment.


I’ll spare you the details of how that happened. Here are my suggested solutions:

  • Give transient students an information packet that explains the institution’s policies, procedures, etc. For instance, at GCSU the financial aid office supplies information on student balances and verifies everything students need. At the “temp” school they didn’t inform her that another office (the name escapes me and no matter how much searching I do on their site I can’t find any information among the transient directions), which had additional information regarding her account balance. Amber finally realized the office they were referring to was similar to one in GCSU’s financial aid office, but it has a different name.
  • Due to a short time frame between the end of one semester and the beginning of another, a text or email plan could be in place to keep transient students up to date. The school’s representative said Amber wouldn’t have received a bill because of the short time frame and there was no way to let her know in time. With today’s technology (email, school accounts, cell phones, instant messaging…) that logic is absurd. To date, no bill, invoice or receipt has been sent.
  • First two choices unrealistic? Setting transient students up with campus mentors to assist them. The student volunteer can earn credit hours or community service points so both individuals benefit.

If Amber had dropped the ball and not been at the financial aid office so frequently then this would be a moot point and an entirely different post. Given the difficulty and sometimes complex nature of higher education, wouldn’t it behoove some schools to be a little more student friendly? And it sure would save the sanity of first-time college moms!

First-time college mom

About the Author: Petula Wright (23 Posts)

Petula Wright has about 17 years experience as an editor and writer who has written and provided editorial services for publications, organizations and individuals. Based in the Atlanta area, she continues to write web content and maintain her blog It’s a woman’s world at PetulaW.com. She says, “Writing is a joy and not a job.” If you need a writer or editor, she can be reached at petulawrites@comcast.net.


  1. Petula Wright says:

    $420?! Good gravy! That’s great advice, Dave. My daughter does very well handling her financial affairs including checking her online bill and has not had any surprises, but I’m going to add this to her “make sure” list because that’s definitely something we can’t afford. That sounds like a post in and of itself.

    It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, that a lot of institutions make it difficult to save a penny – so to speak. In your instance, it seems as if they would make some type of concession. I also noticed with my daughter’s school that the freshman students that are in their university housing off the main campus are still required that minimum amount of food dollars for the cafeteria. Those who live off campus have full kitchens and don’t travel to campus for all meals. It would be better for students’ and more likely parents’ pocketbooks if the off-campus students – particularly freshman – could save money on the meal plan since they’re responsible for their own groceries as well. I feel like I paid (well, my daughter!) for two individuals’ meals for an entire semester.

  2. As the dad of a college student, let me also suggest you frequently check the student bill of your student on-line frequently. My daughter took this semester off, so we expected there would be no bill. I did confirm that all of her tuition costs, etc were showing zeros before the semester began. I figured we were set. Sometime after the start of the semester the parking office charged her for this semester’s parking permit, which she did not need. I did not know about it until a paper bill came in the mail in mid-October! Of course, we contacted them immediately to get a credit and were informed that we had to cancel the permit by September 15, otherwise it had to be paid for! Really?!! And we had no choice but to pay it, otherwise she could not register for classes for the spring. Oh, the cost of the permit? $420!! So, keep an eye on the bill!!

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