Valencia College students told not all pre-major courses covered by financial aid

729 students impacted by degree program change

By Jerry Askin - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Valencia College officials are apologizing to students for any confusion after admitting a "computer issue" led to a misunderstanding about a degree program and the majors offered, potentially affecting more than 700 students.

College officials told News 6 Tuesday they realized the discrepancy in their computer system in the fall. 

"The college’s computer system was considering each pre-major as if it were a separate degree, when in actuality, all pre-majors lead to the completion of an Associate in Arts degree. Valencia only offers one Associate in Arts degree," said Carol Traynor, a spokesperson from Valencia College. 

News 6 spoke with students on campus who said they were under the impression their pre-major courses were their actual major. Many of them told News 6 they may have to pay out of pocket now to finish pre-major courses in engineering, nursing, information technology and other departments.

Valencia College told us not all pre-major courses are covered by financial aid. They say students received an email on Dec. 3 notifying them of the change. In all, they say 729 students were impacted.

"While every case is different, our advisers have worked with each student individually and have offered them institutional grants in lieu of federal financial aid," Traynor said.

Officials said many of the pre-major courses should be transferable at a four-year university. 

"The pre-major courses are suggested transfer courses that are required by the state’s four-year universities. While they may not be required for a student to earn his or her A.A., they will be required for a student earning a bachelor’s degree in that field," said Traynor.

Freshman Kira St. Just said she feels misled and thinking about trasnferring.

She said she thought her major was biomedical sciences, only to learn it doesn't exist as a degree, but a pre-major, and she would actually be getting her degree in general studies.

"I wanted to do biomedical (sciences). I didn’t come here to do general studies, that’s not what I want to do at all," said St. Just.

Second year student Hidayat Khan said he thought he was getting an information technology degree from Valencia College.

"It just came in last minute and shook everything up," said Khan.

He says he even has to pay for some of his pre-major courses. He showed News 6 an email he got from financial aid saying some of his courses won't be covered.

News 6 also asked about transfer credits to four year schools and universities. We were told depending on the school, some of the pre-major courses will transfer, others wont. 

All students affected are asked to go to their counselor for more clarification.

 
A spokesperson for Valencia College sent News 6 this full statement Tuesday:

"Last fall, Valencia College officials discovered an issue related to the college’s Associate in Arts pre-majors. The college’s computer system was considering each pre-major as if it were a separate degree, when in actuality, all pre-majors lead to the completion of an Associate in Arts degree. Valencia only offers one Associate in Arts degree.
 
As a result of this finding, students who had selected an A.A. pre-major had their records updated to reflect that the credential they are pursuing is an Associate in Arts degree. 
 
Valencia College has not eliminated any pre-major programs and students may continue to follow pre-major guidelines, which were created to prepare students for a successful transfer into their chosen bachelor’s degree program. 
 
The college has been working with students impacted by this change, particularly those who are close to finishing their degree or those who rely on Pell or VA grants, to ensure as little disruption to their studies as possible.

We’re sorry for any confusion this may have caused. When this became clear,  Valencia College officials emailed every student impacted by the change and then personally called and emailed over 700 students to ensure as little disruption as possible. If a student still feels that his or her situation has not been adequately addressed, he or she should contact their advisor."

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