Delayed Tuition Payments Lead to Canceled Classes

Students who failed to pay tuition by the Aug. 1 deadline this year may have got a slight surprise from the One Stop Enrollment and Financial Services—having their entire class schedules canceled prior to the first days of school.

“It is not fair to have students who’ve not met their obligations sitting in class while students who have made their payments may be wait-listed for that same class,” Senior Associate Dean of Academic and Enrollment Services Susan Murphy said.

To be fair, One Stop sent out two emails to all USF students notifying them of their financial responsibilities on July 2 and July 11, clearly stating  the payment due date. According to Murphy, all students who did not pay tuition by Aug. 1 were contacted with a reminder email and were given a courtesy extension until Aug. 13.

For those who still fell short of the courtesy extension, Student Accounts dropped their class schedules following obligations from the University. This left students the burden of paying immediately and re-registering for class. However, this is not the first time One Stop has taken such measures.

Joanna Li, senior business administration fell under this predicament for the second time. Last year, Li missed an entire semester due to having all of her courses dropped, and not being able to re-register. This fall, Li had all of her classes cancelled again on Aug. 14 for not paying her tuition and fees. Li said, “I had to pay the full tuition right away in order to re-enroll in the university, and was told I had to find all new classes for the fall semester. I have been waitlisted for several classes and am trying to get into as many as possible.”

Murphy said Student Accounts and One Stop are responsible for implementing University payment policies and various procedures. Their goal is to treat all students equitably, yet assure that all is collected in regards to fees, room and board and more, to meet University obligations.

Students were encouraged to contact One Stop counselors with any questions about meeting outstanding obligations. Murphy said, “The majority of students did follow up and take care of their balances. It is only after the extended deadline given by One Stop that classes are canceled for those that do not make payments.”

Murphy said that this is not a new policy or practice, and that they are still shocked from one semester to the next at how often this occurs. Murphy said, “We find it interesting that many of the students canceled for non-payment this fall had been canceled for non-payment in previous terms.”

The average number of students who have their classes dropped for non-payment varies from one term to the next. For fall 2010, One Stop canceled an average of 550 registrations across all the schools and college degree programs.

Once courses are dropped, the obligation falls upon the student to pay the full tuition amount or enroll in USF’s payment plan. The payment plan enables students to break up the payments across the semester.

Chris Carson, a junior studying media studies and journalism, enrolled in the payment plan upon finding out that his tuition was late, and his courses might be dropped on him. Carson said he received the email from the university stating his classes would be dropped on Aug. 13 if he did not pay tuition, or sign up for the payment plan. Yet, in Carson’s case it came as an empty threat. His classes were never dropped and he was able to get a student loan in order to pay for his tuition for the semester. Carson said, “They offered me the payment plan, but the amounts were way too high, around $3000 a month, or pay $12,000 all at once. I felt that they just made empty threats, since none of my classes were ever canceled.”

Once a student does initiate payment, the registration hold is lifted and the student can then re-register online. However, with three weeks or less prior to the first day of classes, students were left with whatever they could get into.
Katie Fendick, a junior design student, had this situation happen last semester. She was dropped from all of her courses due to non-payment. After signing up for a payment plan, she was waitlisted for many of her classes, and had to get approvals from deans, teachers and advisors. Fendick said, “It was a very frustrating situation, and I was running around campus trying to get back into the classes I needed. I even complained about One Stop and what they put me through in regards to paying tuition and re-registering via a campus survey.”

One Stop noted that there are many reasons why students end up in this situation. Murphy said, “Some students simply do not pay attention to the deadline and make no effort to make payments by the due date.” There are also students that either forget or do not complete their financial aid offers, which are awarded each year, and are available for students to view on the USFConnect website.

Juanita Rebong, the director of One Stop Enrollment and Financial Services, said that along with colleagues in Student Accounts and  Financial Aid, she has been working closely with students and their families. Rebong said, “We have been working to help them satisfy their payment requirements which enables us to lift holds and allow students to re-register for classes.”

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