Move over, holidays -- time for hassledays

by Amy Davis and Liz Carter

Daily Cougar Staff

Tuesday morning was a nightmare for new University of Houston students, but payments, registration and the bookstore were nothing new for the returning veterans.

"It's the same old stuff. They're giving us the run-around," said freshman Chris Stevens, who left for class after waiting in line for his Emergency Loan for more than an hour.

Some students are running into problems with services such as Emergency Loans, but other students have fewer problems with newer services, like VIP registration, said Mario Lucchesi, the director of Registration and Academic Records.

The Department of Financial Aid Services attempted to alleviate overcrowding in E. Cullen's cramped hallways by moving services to the more spacious Houston Room in the University Center.

Administrators made drop boxes available in the Houston Room and other locations across campus for students who needed to pay their fee bills. Only cash, checks and money orders were accepted this semester to eliminate hassles that arose last year with credit cards.

Although some, like biology student LaShonda Petteway, stood in line for a Guaranteed Student Loan check for more than an hour, Financial Aid counselor, Deborah Pierce, said other service lines had dwindled after 9 a.m. In fact, this semester's business is running more smoothly than last fall's, she said.

Federal cutbacks in financial aid had no effect on the UH Financial Aid Service, Pierce said.

Although some students who applied for financial aid during the government shutdown may encounter difficulties, students who received awards and applied for aid during the fall semester have not been affected, said Robert Sheridan, the director of the Department Scholarships and Financial Aid.

Because of outcries from students and parents, Congress has only cut back on direct lending, which doesn't affect students at UH, said Sheridan. He also said students need to be prepared for future cuts "that will come in a matter of time."

Some students voiced frustration and concern over late refund checks scheduled to be mailed Jan. 10. A system crash in the Financial Aid System has bumped that date to Thursday, according to UH Media Relations.

Inside the UH bookstore, managers were all smiles. Assistant Manager Waleed Alhamra said everything was running smoothly.

"We have plenty of books and the stock is great," said Alhamra, pointing to a tall stacks of books across the store.

Some students had problems in the bookstore. Garnett Gilbert was disgruntled with the bookstore's ordering of the wrong edition of an anthropology book required for her class.

As usual, students' thoughts of holiday sugarplums and casual relaxation changed into thoughts of bookstores, payments and financial aid on their first day of the spring semester.

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