Students with unpaid balances unable to register, see grades

Students who have not paid their remaining tuition balance face holds on their accounts in the form of hidden grades and delayed registration. 

This is the business office’s to be a reminder for students to take care of their bills, but for some financially strapped students, this is nearly impossible to avoid and frustrating to grapple with.

“Holds are for students that did not see communication from the business office regarding a balance due on their student account or failed to take care of it,” said accounting manager Sharon Heap.

Heap said that just under 20% of students typically have holds placed on their accounts after the due date and at least half of those make arrangements after receiving an email from the business office. 

For many, this is as simple as an email exchange, but others face harder obstacles.

Among them are juniors Kyja Norris and Bjorn Slattum. Both have struggled with the business office and registrar to reach an understanding on paying their balance.

Because Norris is unable to get a cosigner, she is paying the majority of her bill out of pocket. So aside from the FAFSA, she has not used any loans throughout her time at Augustana.

“I’m working at the Elmen. I’m [working as a Viking Advisor] to lower my costs. I have a theater scholarship and things like that,” she said. “I’m working and trying to pay for it. In the summer, I work two to three jobs.”

Similarly, Slattum’s dad works a job with unpredictable income. Slattum said his dad pays when it’s feasible.

All of Slattum’s pay from his job at the Elmen Center also goes to his outstanding balance, but that’s not on his own accord.

“I’ve asked the business office if I could have it go to my bank account because I really need that,” he said. “They’re like ‘No, we need all of it to go there without a plan.’”

According to Heap, the business office has standard payment plans that students can use, but they also try to accommodate other outlying situations.

“Our business office is amazing at working with individual students and their unique situations to work on plans for payment and making sure the students that are registering for classes have a plan for how they will pay for their classes,” said Joni Krueger, registrar and associate dean for interdisciplinary programs.

But Slattum said he has struggled with both offices during registration.

“Say they tell me they need half of it paid off, and I do that,” said Slattum. “Then, they are like ‘Well we want three quarters now.’”

Registration is also where it gets difficult for Norris.

Norris said she had to go in and get a list of tasks and requirements to meet that were catered to her situation. With these tasks, she said she was told she’d be able to register.

“Registering itself is already really stressful because you don’t know if you’ll get into classes that you want, but then having all that extra stuff makes it harder,” Norris said.

Even when those quotas are met, registering doesn’t always go as planned. Norris explained that when she did complete the list, she was still told she couldn’t register.

“Luckily I kept the business card that she wrote everything on,” Norris said. “After that they let me register.”

Krueger said that, with the delayed registration, they try to keep students from digging themselves into a financial hole.

“It would be unethical for us to allow the student to continue to get into further debt when they are unable to pay for prior terms,” said Krueger.

While Slattum recognizes that they are doing their jobs, he finds the exchange every semester frustrating because he has never failed to pay his bill before the following semester.

“The business office should take into account that there are people from different places, in different situations where they struggle,” said Slattum. “If I could get a loan to pay it I would, but I can’t.”

Norris says she recognizes that it is on each student to take responsibility for the situation and that the registrar and business office are just doing what they need to.

“I feel like it’s on you to go in and talk to them,” she said. “Everyone has their own scenario. I understand why they do what they do and the way that they do it, but it’s just frustrating because not allowing us to register could make us not graduate on time.”

  1. What so I can get an email? Avatar
    What so I can get an email?

    Lmao saying ur place of work does an amazing job but not listening to the students is a gem, truly.

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