Jordan Scroggins

A screenshot of Jordan Scroggins' GoFundMe page that sits at $1,349 in donations as of June 24, 2022.

Jordan Scroggins was sitting in the living room of her Texas home when she received an email from the LSU financial aid office on June 6. It explained that a scholarship caused her tuition to exceed the cost of attendance, and she had to pay $4,800 out of pocket.

“My heart literally just stopped because I had no idea what it was saying,” the English senior said. “I just saw $4,800. I was like, ‘oh my, I have $20 in my bank account. I don't know what you guys want me to do.’”

Scroggins replied to the email and asked for clarification on what the message meant, yet it took three days for the financial aid counselor to answer.

“Obviously, I'm super confused,” Scroggins said. “I have no idea what that means. They're saying it to me in really weird terms. They weren't saying straight up like, ‘hey, you got to pay this.’ They were saying, ‘oh, it exceeded your cost of tuition.’”

Scroggins called her girlfriend, kinesiology and Spanish senior Paola Colmenares, soon after reading the email. “Confusing” was how Colmenares described the initial email. The pair sent the email to their friends, asking what they thought it meant, and everyone agreed the email’s wording was confusing and complex.

When Scroggins emailed the main LSU financial aid email, the office took two days to respond. When they did respond, they apologized for “the miscommunication and lack of response.” They then referred her back to the financial aid counselor Scroggins had already been in contact with about the situation.

Scroggins delivered food through DoorDash in her free time to pay the fine and started a GoFundMe that had reached $1,349. It wasn’t until June 16 that LSU resolved the situation by awarding her a second scholarship solely to cover the cost of the fine.

LSU spokesperson Ernie Ballard explained why LSU initially charged her. A scholarship valued at $5,472 was awarded to Scroggins on May 25 for the Spring 2022 semester and Scroggins received a refund check from the bursar for the full amount.

This $5,472 scholarship was the Lisi Oliver Undergraduate Award for Excellence, a scholarship meant for students who “demonstrated financial need and merit both inside and outside of the classroom,” according to an LSU website. Scroggins said she was not notified that the scholarship would exceed her cost of attendance when she accepted the award.

“This scholarship award triggered a federal financial aid overaward,” Ballard said. “If a student receives a scholarship which exceeds his/her cost of attendance, we are required by law to reduce the student’s loan to ensure cost of attendance standards are met.”

The financial aid office reduced Scroggins’ parent plus loan for the spring semester, which caused a balance on her account for the amount of the refund received. The department awarded her a scholarship for the 2023 year to help with the cost of the overaward and reduce the loan debt, Ballard said.

From June 6 through June 16, Scroggins feared she wouldn’t graduate college because of LSU’s mishandling. Scroggins was in contact with several offices and employees throughout the course of those ten days in an effort to fix the situation.

LSU should not have let this happen in the first place, Colmenares said. She believes the financial aid department and the English department should have had better communication on the scholarship. Instead of awarding it in a semester that would put her over budget, they should have awarded it to her in a future semester, Colmenares said.

“I'm so excited to be finally noticed for my accomplishments from LSU, but it's kind of biting me in the ass,” Scroggins said. “I don't know how to put it. It's kind of screwing me over.”

Scroggins said she is only able to afford to attend LSU because of loans. Her mother is a single parent and veteran who works two jobs to pay their existing debt. Scroggins is a full-time student and has a work-study job that pays $10 an hour for only so many hours per work. Paying the fee was not an option, Scroggins said.

“The scholarship that they gave her was for students who demonstrate financial need, so that's what gets me is that LSU gave this scholarship to a student who demonstrates financial need, and then they're like, ‘oh, actually, well we know that you don't have the best financial situation, but we're going to need you to come up with $5,000 to pay us back,’” Colmenares said.

Scroggins had her Law School Admission Test in a few days at the time, and she questioned if she should still take the test knowing that she may not graduate college due to the fee.

Despite the situation being resolved, Scroggins and Colmenares are upset that it happened and are worried this could happen to other students. Scroggins is still scared her scholarship will be taken away.

“The last thing I want is to have to drop out but I know that it’s a very, very real thing for so many other people,” Scroggins said. “I just wish that LSU actually looked into that, and actually just even pretended to care, honestly.”

After speaking to LSU student government president Lizzie Shaw, Scroggins and Colmenares learned that this isn’t the first time LSU mishandled scholarships.

“If this is happening so frequently, then maybe somebody should look into who's awarding these scholarships and maybe have them looked up, because if they routinely keep messing up to where these students are in these really frustrating positions, then they shouldn't be working in the financial aid office,” Colmenares said.

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