Bursar’s policies remain unchanged despite crisis

Despite the global financial flux, the Office of the Bursar does not foresee any policy changes in the near future concerning late payment penalties or individually tailored solutions to these penalties. Dave Holland, Bursar, said that while the financial situations of students and their families may be changing, the way his office operates in the near future will not.

The Bursar is responsible for the billing, collecting and recording of student fees and payments. They include tuition, board and any other fees a student might accrue during time spent at the College. To help families who have financial problems or temporary cash flow issues, Holland plans to offer solutions such as additional loans and monthly payment plans instead of paying large sums twice a year.

Penalties that can result from late payments include additional fees and registration holds. In extreme situations, if a student has a large outstanding balance at the end of the semester, he or she may be asked not to return for the next semester. Holland said that his office rarely resorts to such measures, however. “The key is communication,” he said.
Susan Hogan, Controller, agreed. “If parents and students communicate why they’re late in making payments, when they will be able to pay, and if they make a plan and stick to it, we’re happy to work with them,” she said. “We work with families on an individual basis, and always have.”

While neither Holland nor Hogan expect to make concrete policy changes, they both recognized that the financial situations of families may change in the near future. “Our policy and behavior won’t be changing, but the number of people that David [Holland] works with directly may increase,” she said.

For the moment, Holland said that there has been no great increase in families calling with financial issues. “We haven’t heard anything. I think one person may have acknowledged in passing that there might be rough times ahead, but that’s been all,” he said.

The next billing cycle will be revealing. The upcoming bills are scheduled to be sent to families Dec. 15, with payments due on Jan. 15. “We don’t know what to expect,” Holland said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if more people had problems, but I think we’ll know better in February and March.”

Although bursars at some other colleges like Brown are making changes that currently allow students to avoid repercussions for late payments, Holland noted that most peer institutions are sticking to their policies.

Working out solutions with students is a priority for prestigious private schools. “The school works hard to get their students here. Once they’re here, we want to do everything we can to make sure they can stay,” Holland said.

Both Holland and Hogan recommended that if students find that the financial situations of their families are negatively impacted, they should work with the Office of Financial Aid to see if their financial aid status can be modified. “If their financial aid doesn’t change, we need to look at payment options,” Holland said.

Above all, the College stresses an open dialogue with students amidst financial struggles. “The best thing families can do is to be in communication with the Bursar’s Office,” Hogan said.

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