One college in Florida, Florida State College at Jacksonville, is forcing students to pay back their financial aid. That tactic sure is cruel.

According to a piece by Kathryn Jeffries at First Coast News (Jacksonville):

After multiple audits, Florida State College at Jacksonville revealed during a news conference Tuesday that the latest financial audits found that a high error rate was found in the financial aid department.

The base of the issue is the alleged misappropriation of Pell Grants. Now some students are being forced to pay back that Pell Grant money they received. That’s nearly $3 million combined.

Students who were inaccurately approved for financial aid have been sent letters, said James McCollum, FSCJ’s chair of the board of trustees. To keep the aid monies, students will need to provide documentation that shows they are rightly due aid.

I’m not specifically involved in the situation in this college, but providing students with money and then saying they actually can’t have it can be very, very difficult for student finances, even if the college was wrong in the first place.

This situation seems rather similar to what happens when colleges mistakenly send out acceptance letters to students it planned to reject.

No, it’s not appropriate to toy with students’ emotions and finances like that: if you screw up and distribute too much financial aid, the aid should apply and the students should get what they were promised; the college should eat the difference. It’s the college’s fault. It should should pay for these mistakes, not the kids.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer