(This story was updated at 11:39 am)
FRIDAY, September 4 – Most law students at Michigan State University are still waiting to receive their student loans more than a week after class starts, as officials grapple with federal consequences of the Larry investigation Nassar.
Nearly 400 of the 700 students registered to attend MSU Law College this semester are affected, MSU officials confirmed yesterday. They are in their second week of virtual lessons.
“We realize this process and situation is frustrating for students and is causing disruption in their funding plans,” an MSU spokeswoman told City Pulse after the students raised concerns. “We are working closely with the federal government to resolve this process.”
The College of Law – formerly known as Detroit College of Law – moved to East Lansing in the 1990s and, until a planned integration this year, was independent from MSU, with its own financial aid procedures and loan.
This merger, however, encountered a setback with the US Department of Education due to Nassar-related Clery Act violations and subsequent sanctions imposed on MSU. As a result, MSU cannot technically add other eligible locations to the loan without federal approval. Nassar is a former doctor and MSU professor who is serving prison time for sexual abuse.
Until the federal government approves the merger, that means students still don’t have access to their loan money. They discovered the problem last week. Acting Dean Melanie Jacobs hasn’t made any promises, but hopes the issue can be resolved by next week, she said.
“We had been led to believe that this would happen seamlessly with our integration, so all of us at MSU are surprised by this development,” Jacobs wrote in an email last week apologizing to the students for the “financial snafu”.
“But our surprise shouldn’t be your stress,” she added.
A spokeswoman for MSU also said officials hope the issue will be resolved “soon” pending federal approval. In the meantime, Jacobs has opened a small pantry for hungry students in his office and is said to have purchased several Meijer gift cards for those in need.
Additionally, MSU has temporarily waived a 7% interest rate on short-term loans of up to $ 1,500 for those struggling to make ends meet amid delays. Most students use them. Additional short-term loans are also available for students who need more than $ 1,500.
Several others, meanwhile, have expressed frustration at the recent delays, especially as the switch to online courses has surprised many who had already signed leases and moved to East Lansing – something they can’t. more afford without a stable loan.
The rigors of law school, especially the first year, prevent many students from maintaining full-time employment while in school. These loans are often how they pay rent, buy groceries, or buy thousands of dollars for textbooks needed to earn a law degree.
A student also recounted that a classmate was “put down” by a teacher after her loan was delayed and she could not afford the required textbook for a required classroom course. Federal delays are obviously far from ideal, but officials said they are working to fix them quickly.
MSU was fined a record $ 4.5 million by the US Department of Education last year over its systemic failure to protect students from sexual abuse uncovered in the Nassar Inquiry. Four “serious findings” of non-compliance with the Clery Act were uncovered, including a failure to properly report and classify crime statistics and incidents of sexual assault on campus.
As a result of these findings, MSU was forced to create a Clery Compliance Committee and carry out dozens of other reforms. A condition of this agreement prohibits MSU from adding other locations eligible for financial assistance without specific federal approval, including for the MSU Act.
Emails obtained by City Pulse showed that students attempted to elicit an explanation for the College of Law administration’s delays over the past week. Violations of the Clery Law were never mentioned in response.
Acting Dean Melanie Jacobs declined to comment when asked when she was informed that the Nassar scandal would trigger financial aid delays for law students. She also declined to comment when asked why this full explanation had apparently never been passed on to the student body.
Although the Law College itself does not administer student financial aid, Jacobs has been in almost constant contact with MSU officials to follow up on the issue since taking office, she said.
“I didn’t anticipate this,” Jacobs added. “I didn’t intend it to be a lack of transparency.”
Jacobs said “hopefully” the issues will be resolved by next week, but again made no promises.
“I am so sorry for the stress this has caused the students,” added Jacobs. “Law school is stressful enough without all of this. We want our students to have a positive experience.