Financial Aid Student Loans Are Wonderful, Guys

Student loans from Financial Aid are the absolute shit.

They’re interest-free and don’t have a long, drawn-out application process. The University literally has a fund set aside and its only purpose is to help out students who are in a financial bind.

The only catch is that you have to pay them back, and that’s standard because that’s what loans are.

Abolishing the Stigma: One Woman’s Journey Through the Student Loan Process

YA’LL SIT DOWN FOR A MOMENT.  MAMA’S GOT A STORY TO TELL, YA HEAR?!

Casuals at the Uni have to submit a timecard every second Friday so they can be paid the following Thursday. Normally, you get an email confirming that your timecard has been approved on Monday night, then the cash gets deposited in a bin outside your house two days later.

The year is mid-January 2015. I’m on the 401 bus. It’s the day before my first pay day since Christmas Eve and I casually think to myself, ‘Huh, I haven’t got my timecard approval email yet.’

I sit bolt upright and frantically check my staff account as a warm puddle of wee spreads itself across my bus seat. The timecard should say SUBMITTED but instead it says WORKING.

It may as well say YOU’RE INCOMPETENT, JOHANNA because apparently I can’t tell the difference between the words ‘save’ and ‘submit’. After a brief moment of gut-wrenching despair where I do not cry, I remember that I can take out a short-term loan to tide me over until next pay day.

I booked an emergency Financial Aid appointment for my lunch break. The friendly Financial Aid officer and I chatted about my circumstances and the short term loan was approved. I got a cheque for $1000, cashed it at the NAB on campus, then went to Lygon St and deposited the pineapples into my account at ANZ. Then I ate my leftover chicken drumsticks. Then I went back to work.

I had the money in my bank account within my lunch break.

Now that I’ve shed light on the whole humiliating, soul-crushing ridiculously easy and friendly process, we can get to the nitty-gritties:

Short Term Loans

Short term loans can be granted up to $1000, which can cover cash-flow issues for things like rent, groceries, bills and (depending on how low you’re willing to go on Gumtree), between 80-500 baby mice.

The short term loan fund isn’t as restricted as the long term one, so there’s only a few non-invasive questions before you can be approved:

  • How did you get in this position?
  • How much do you need?
  • When can you pay it back?
  • What can we do so you’re not in this position again?

All students enrolled at uni are eligible for short term loans. That’s domestic, international, grad, undergrad, research, even Biomed students – you guys are allowed to show weakness occasionally.

You pay back Financial Aid by the agreed payment date, which is normally within 6 months. In my case, I gave my next pay day as the payment date—I was adamant that my pride would stay intact despite the fact I had just incorrectly entered a timecard I’d been submitting fortnightly for over two years.

The Financial Aid officer put the payment date two weeks after the one I suggested, just in case and because he’s nice.

The repayments can be in instalments or one lump sum. To be honest, I don’t recommend doing the lump sum – it just took a chunk out of my pay and I felt sad.

There’s nothing shameful about paying in instalments, particularly after the shame of incorrectly entering a timecard I had been submitting fortnightly for over two years.

Long Term Loans

Long term loans are available up to $5000 – that’s enough to buy three purebred golden retriever puppies.

Students with an international guarantor are normally limited to $3000, which still gets you one golden retriever with enough money leftover to buy 725 baby mice.

The application process is slightly more extensive for long term loans – you have to fill out a paper form (Lord above!), and provide the signature of a guarantor. The applications are assessed on a regular basis, and you normally have the cheque within a few days.

You can get loans for things that directly impact your studies (i.e. laptops, textbooks, goggles? What else do Science students use, lab vests or some shit?), or things directly related to wellbeing (e.g. your bobute might be sick in Lithuania and you can’t afford a flight home to see her, or you need money for medication).

You’re also a-okay to take out a loan to help you fund your Exchange or Study Abroad.

The repayment process is slightly more extensive this time, with regular payments that don’t start until your course is finished. It’s a bit like paying your water bill—you get an invoice with a BPAY code and you can make an online transfer each month. Or deposit the money in a bin out the front of your house and pray it finds its way to uni.

The Moral of the Journey

Student loans through Financial Aid are super common, and they’re fantastic resources. They’re interest-free and flexible, and Financial Aid Officers are literally paid to give you money. And they’re nice people, too.

Financial Aid is located in Student Services on the ground floor of the Baldwin Spencer Building.

More information about Financial Aid can be found here: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/finaid

– Joey

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