College Student Mistakenly Declared Dead Could Lose Financial Aid

By  | 

Screen Shot 2016-12-31 at 3.43.53 PM

(Via ABC 7)

Ashley Walker from Chicago wants to be the first black woman with a Ph.D. in Astrochemistry, but her studies were placed in jeopardy this semester when a bureaucratic error caused her to mistakenly be declared dead.

According to ABC 7, Walker is an astrochemistry major at Chicago State University and she is scheduled for a fellowship at Harvard this summer. Walker’s father died of lung cancer on August 31. That was a tragedy for the family, and Walker was devastated that her father would not get to see her receive her undergraduate degree from Chicago State University when she graduates in 2018. She did not imagine the kinds of problems his death would eventually cause her.

First she found that she couldn’t get anyone to provide her with Internet service. She couldn’t get a credit card. Then she got called into the CSU financial aid office because there was a problem with her account. They asked for her Social Security card, and when she gave it to them, they told her she was dead.

The living, breathing young woman told them that she was not dead, and as evidence pointed out that she was standing right there. But a loan officer said that the data was saying that she had died in August. Walker figured out the connection right away, and she asked if it said she died on August 31. It did.

For some reason, credit agencies and the financial aid department think she died on August 31, instead of her father. Walker has his death certificate on it, and she is listed as an informant on it, not as the deceased.

“Where’s my death certificate if I’m supposed to be dead, where’s my death certificate? Nobody has one,” she said.

Proving that she is not dead is turning out to be a lot harder than it should be. The school has reportedly been helpful, but still Walker says she has “piles of paperwork” just trying to get herself recognized as herself, and not dead, so she can get her financial aid back in time for next semester. She says she’s optimistic that it will get worked out and she’ll be able to go back to school next semester, graduate on time, and start working towards that Ph.D.