By Noah Stallings–Financial aid can be the make-or-break factor for students deciding if they want to go to college, but the money they receive is not free; it comes from the taxpayers.

Now, restrictions have been tightened in order to make sure the money isn’t going to people who aren’t showing up to class.

Due to this new federal mandate, UTC required tracking of all students during the second week of classes, regardless if they receive aid or not.

Federal funds for college students are known as Title IV. These include Pell Grants, Perkins Loans, and SEOG. According to the Department of Education, Title IV funds are awarded to a student under the assumption that they will attend school for the entire semester. If a student fails to attend any classes, they will be ineligible for Title IV.

The Department of Education’s website lays out the information in rather bleak terms: “If notification of non-attendance in any class is received at any time, the determination of federal financial aid eligibility will be re-evaluated for that term and may result in financial aid forfeiture and/or a balance due to the College.”

If the money was already given back as a refund check, the Financial Aid Department of UTC said, your transcript and registration can be put on hold until the fine is paid back to the campus. Bryon Kluesner, adaptive technology coordinator for the Disability Resource Center, said this isn’t a one-time thing and we should count on this happening again.

“It will probably happen during the second week of each new semester,” he said.

Chattanooga State does not have this policy. Calls to University of Tennessee-Knoxville went unreturned.

Many students expressed confusion about the process and the proper procedures. Some students voiced concern that the program wouldn’t work. Kerry Wilson a sophomore from Calhoun, GA says the program has many flaws.

“A person could be somewhere else and just remember to text the number,” Wilson said. “[The school] wouldn’t have any idea where they sent it from.”

In addition, the email that Vice Chancellor Chuck Cantrell sent out Monday, Jan. 6, read in part “Please note that you will able to confirm attendance until midnight on the same day that the class session meets.” This implies that students could skip the day and text later on that night and still be “counted.”

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