grad school

Issues Involving My Name Change and Financial Aid

I’ve been trying to sort out my financial aid situation over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been checking my student account regularly to make sure all necessary paperwork has been completed. I noticed that I had a bill for a few thousand dollars. As an undergraduate, I never actually saw a billed amount because financial aid would automatically take care of my bill, leaving my account balance at $0 all the time. It came as a surprise to me when I logged into my account one day to see that I actually owed money.

Immediately, I checked my financial aid tab to see what was going on. It said all my paperwork was complete. Well, I leaned towards the overly cautious side since the bill was due in two weeks or I’d get a late fee on top of the already ridiculous amount of tuition I owed. I went into the financial aid office and found out that I just had to get my department to notify them of the amount of support I’d be receiving, even if it was no support. I got that all taken care of quickly. Then, my account updated to reflect that I needed to sign a promissory note to be disbursed a loan amount. I went to the financial aid website and filled out all the paperwork. It reflected my old name, so I contacted them to ask about getting it changed to my new name. They informed me that I had to get it change through the school, which I had already done. At this point I thought everything was taken care of, but I continued to check my account daily (if not more) to make sure everything went through.

A week passed, and still the promissory note hadn’t been checked off on the to-do list. Today, I decided to go into the financial aid office again. I went in and it was packed (since classes officially start on Thursday). They called me back, and I explained that I had already filled out the promissory note, but I recently had a name change so it reflected my old name. The lady, Beth, seemed genuinely surprised when she saw that my old name was April. She went to go check with someone. She came back and said that I would have to get my name change through the US Department of Education and sign a new promissory note since the only name they have on file for me now is August. I told her that I already contacted them, and they told me that I just had to change my name through the school. This went on for a couple of minutes until the associate director of financial aid, Esteban, came in and introduced himself. Beth explained the situation, all the while using male pronouns (yay! I was worried after she saw my birth name that she’d revert to female pronouns). Esteban told me he’d look into, gave me his card, and sent me on my way.

As I was heading out, a lady was opening a door for another student, and she told them, “Let me just let him through first (referring to me).”

Despite the frustration of having issues involving my name change and having to out myself to others who would have otherwise known no different, I was pretty happy to be correctly pronouned and such even after they found out that I am trans. I’ve noticed more and more that people are reading me as male (or just avoiding assigning a gender to me at all).

At the end of the day, I got a call from Esteban (he left a voicemail since I get poor reception in lab) saying that everything was taken care of, and my account would be updated tonight. I was really happy with the quick response. I want to email him and thank him for getting it taken care of so fast without me having to jump through hoops.

TL;DR: Word of advice for those changing their names while in school, make sure you stay organized and on top of getting required paperwork handed in. Don’t just assume that it will be taken care of on its own. There may be special circumstances. Well, even if not in school, changing your name requires you to be more organized than the average person.