Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Was Maura Waiting for Student Loans?

When I was an undergrad at Kent State, I lived off student loans for a couple semesters (and I'm still paying down those loans, actually!) I was able to get loans at a state school that covered my rent off-campus, meals, and still left me with about $5,000 in the bank.

Yesterday, we talked about how Maura was in school only for about two weeks before she disappeared.

The same source who sent me this info also noticed how financial aide overages are posted into a student's account (or the account of a parent, sometimes) at about the same time.

Credit Balances and Refunds
Any remaining credit balance must be refunded to you within a certain amount of time, depending on when the credit balance was created.
  • On or before the first day of classes: No later than 14 calendar days after the first day of classes
  • After the first day of classes: No later than 14 calendar days after the credit balance was created
Refunds from your student account may be delivered by:
  • Cash
  • Check
  • Electronic funds transfer (EFT) to your bank account
  • Prepaid debit or ATM card
You can use your refund to pay for other college costs, such as textbooks, supplies, transportation to and from school, rent (if you live off-campus), computer equipment and software, dependent care, and other miscellaneous expenses.


If Maura ran away, now we're looking at a good nest egg. And maybe you can add $4,000 to that, since we've never really had a good accounting of the cash Fred hastily brought to campus with him the weekend before she disappeared.

It is at least possible that Maura had access to around $10,000 the day she vanished.


  1. Wow now she had $10 grand. This is crazy

  2. Ha! This is exactly what I was gonna say that I emailed you about! I wonder if she got a refund of her tuition or if she just took her tuition check and left.

  3. Good find, James. I wonder if she had a personal account and a college financial aid account. Everybody says she withdrew $280 and almost drained that account, so there could be a second account. She wasn't a minor, so I'm guessing that she got the financial aid monies rather than Fred. This account would have to be already set up though, so if she *did* have an account, I wonder if she could easily switch it to a cash basis. Where would she pick up the cash if she got the monies in cash? At the financial aid office? I'm assuming that there will be cameras there and, of course, at the banks.

    It also could be that the monies went to Fred, so maybe the $4,000 he had "on my person" is from the financial aid credit money. That is, if she had a credit due to her.

    1. Could she have simply cashed her financial aid check at the same time she withdrew the $280?

    2. It says right on the post the refunds could be in the form of cash. No account set-up required.

  4. If this had happened, there would be a record of it, and I tend to think we would have heard about it.

    1. I seriously doubt the university would disclose that information. She's still presumed alive and the university is bound by certain laws that protects the privacy of adult students. And since the car accident happened so far away, it's likely law enforcement never even questioned financial aid offices.

  5. In 1999, when I was 21 years old, I took my financial aid money and bought a plane ticket to Colorado to see my boyfriend at the time. I booked the ticket through a travel agent, because you still did that kind of thing in 1999. I honestly thought it was a very good possibility that I would not return home to Wisconsin. Fortunately, he was a jerk to me while I was there, and back to WI I went after only missing a couple days of classes, and no one was the wiser.

  6. There'd be a transaction to follow. I'd doubt us spinsters would be able to get evidence of this.

  7. James, I think you're getting more signs pointing to your theory that she fled than any other theory. Good digging/theorizing.

  8. The procedure when I was in school around the same time was that you go in and sign the financial aid checks to the school and they credit you for cost of classes. Then they issued a check for the overage. Mine was around $1200 each term, more or less. It wasn't a bonanza. I still had to work full time to pay my rent, car payment, insurance, eye. Her overage might've been very small since room and board are also taken out of financial aid.

    But this might be of note. The school issued checks. It's likely she would have deposited said check into her account, because her bank likely wouldn't have cashed a check for more than what she had in her account.

  9. Unless she had some excellent scholarships and someone paying part of tuition, the overage would not be that much. I assume UMass was much more expensive than the tiny state school I attended and even after paying my low tuition which I paid almost all with loans I'd only be refunded about $1,000.

    1. At the time of this occurrence (I was a student at UMass at the time) tuition was around $8k and room and board was around $6k. My total bill for the 03-04 school year was around $14k before books.

      I distinctly remember the numbers because the tuition had gone up a huge amount from the year before and for the spring 2004 semester, the school had increased the "required fees" portion of the tuition mid year, so my spring 2004 bill was $750 higher than the previous semester.

      Since she was living on campus, I doubt her refund would have been very large. Usually you see large refunds from people who take private loans to cover living costs, which she couldn't do since the living costs were part of her student bill.

  10. I'm a university academic advisor with expertise in financial aid, so I wanted to offer some insight on this.

    At a school like UMass, most students receive the following types of financial aid:
    -- scholarships
    -- Pell Grant
    -- Direct Loans
    -- PLUS Loan

    Direct Loans are fairly small ($3,750 per semester for juniors/seniors), but the PLUS Loan exists to supplement whatever is not covered by the other forms of financial aid. The PLUS Loan can also provide a substantial refund (often around $4,000+) to be used for books, supplies, and other expenses.

    The PLUS Loan is always in the parent's name, and the PLUS Loan refund always goes to the parent unless the parent authorizes the school's financial aid office to issue the refund directly to the student. Some parents use private loans (such as Sallie Mae) instead of the PLUS Loan, but usually the PLUS Loan has a lower interest rate.

    HERE'S THE IMPORTANT THING: Maura went missing around the exact time she would have gotten her spring semester refund check. If you look at UMass academic calendar for spring 2017, for example, you'll see that classes start on January 23, and the last day to drop or add classes is February 6. Financial aid disburses after the last day to drop or add classes, and students receive refunds approximately one week after the last day to drop or add classes -- putting it squarely on February 13.

    If Maura was indeed planning to disappear, she may have been waiting to receive her financial aid refund check. She could have picked it up, cashed it, and left town.

    Universities cannot release any information related to student financial records because of FERPA. They can't even release information to parents unless the student signs a consent form, but they would of course release information to law enforcement if warranted.