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By Vanessa Greco

A student might not be able to graduate on time after a $1,350 award blunder at Ryerson’s financial assistance office.

Chi Nguyen, a third-year journalism student who has volunteered for The Eyeopener in the past, was mistakenly awarded $1,350 in December 2007. After discovering the mix-up a month later, the school charged the money to her RAMSS account. By then, Nguyen had already put the cash towards her tuition.

Now Nguyen is saddled with a $1,350 debt on top of tuition. She worries the outstanding money will stop her from graduating on time.

“I feel so defeated at this point,” said Nguyen. “The school admitted it was their mistake then washed their hands of responsibility.”

Nguyen, who is on OSAP and works 30 hours a week as a barista to pay rent, cannot recover the award money. School administration recommended she try to win the money back by applying for scholarships, Nguyen said.

“But it doesn’t make sense to me,” she said. “Even if I won a scholarship, why should I pay for Ryerson’s mistake?”

Due to the mix-up, there’s been an administrative hold placed on Nguyen’s RAMSS account, making class enrolment difficult.

Attempting to lose the debt, she’s contacted Ryerson’s ombudsperson and employees at the financial assistance office. Her calls to the financial assistance office haven’t been successful.

Carole Scrase, student financial assistance manager, did not return interview requests by press time.

Rebecca Rose, the Ryerson Students’ Union’s VP education, encourages Nguyen to seek help with the RSU’s advocacy coordinator and free lawyer.

“I don’t think it’s fair for the school to make her pay for their mistake,” she said. “I’m sure our resources would love to speak with her.”

Over a year ago, former RSU president Nora Loreto asked the university to let Nguyen keep the money. She still believes Nguyen has a case.

“Sure, the school gave her options — but all of them involved repayment,” Loreto said.

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