Family says MSU Denver owes $1,600 after administrators lose paperwork

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DENVER -- David Aylward, 21, won’t be attending his fourth year of college at Metropolitan State University of Denver this year, but his parents are still stuck with a hefty bill for the fall semester.

“All I want is the $1,608 to go off his account because I don’t feel I’m responsible for it,” said his mother, Teresa Aylward.

David was relying on a Pell Grant to pay for classes, as he has in past years at MSU.

Because his mother’s income changed, however, they had to submit a new form.

"I guess I assumed since we had received the Pell Grant every year for David and since my income had dropped significantly, that there would be no problem qualifying for a Pell Grant,” Teresa said.

Her income changed in January, so Teresa says she waited to submit the form until the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

The whole family says they went to the campus to turn it in this past July, meeting with a woman in the financial aid office, who Teresa says was named “Theresa.”

We had all our paperwork. She helped us out and went over the numbers with us,” Teresa said.

The paperwork was supposed to be processed in roughly four weeks, but when she followed up, MSU had no record of the paperwork.

On Sunday, Teresa played a voicemail on her phone, left by someone who identified himself as “Nathan” from the school’s financial aid office.

“I don’t believe the form was turned in, or we may have lost it,” Nathan said in part of the voicemail.

Teresa says Nathan instructed her to resubmit the paperwork.

“By this point, it’s getting close to when school is about to start, so I said, ‘What are we supposed to do in the meantime? Should I have David start, or what do we do?’" Teresa said.

She said she was concerned the new paperwork wouldn’t be processed until after Aug. 26, which is the cutoff for students to get a full refund on their classes.

“What they told me was to have David start the classes anyway, and not worry about it,” she said.

This time, MSU processed the paperwork.

David got an email Sept. 3 saying he didn’t qualify for the Pell Grant, so they cancelled all his classes immediately.

Shortly after, they received a bill for more than $1,600.

In a statement emailed to FOX31, a spokesperson for MSU said:

“We regularly advise students to be careful if registering for classes before they have their financial aid and school funding plan established.  Students should not enroll in classes with a hope they will be given a scholarship or to become eligible for Federal Pell Grants.”

The statement also said, “It’s always best to establish a payment strategy in advance, even if it included loans, and then pay back unneeded loans when additional aid and scholarships become available.”

Teresa says loans wouldn’t be enough to cover all of David’s expenses.

“My son can’t afford to go because he rents an apartment, works part-time and goes to school at MSU. This would have been his fourth year. Without the Pell Grant, he can’t close the gap,” she said.

They have the option to appeal their bill by filing an institutional correction form, explaining who was at fault.

But Teresa says there’s another problem.

“They won’t take (the appeal) because they need us to find who’s at fault. I don’t know who’s at fault. Who lost our original documents for our income loss statement?” she said. “They’re basically just giving us the runaround."

They family hasn’t had to pay the bill yet and hope it won’t get to that point.

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