I write in response to the letter from Professors Bob Hazard and Karin Evans that appeared in the November 18, 2015 issue of The Courier. Although the writers did not provide an alternative solution to their concerns about the College’s current payment plan, I thought the campus community should have more information about this plan and how it actually works.
The payment plan was designed to serve College of DuPage students, giving each student a menu of options to meet their financial obligations and pay for college. The payment plan offers a deferred option for those students who qualify for and receive financial aid; an option for Veterans; as well as an active option for students who are self-funding their college tuition. The active option assists students who both work and attend school at the same time, affording the needed flexibility to spread the cost over a period of time. Students may select a plan that considers a total number of installments, bi-monthly and monthly payment options, time frame and percentage down allowing the student to select the best plan that meets their needs. For example one active plan has a 20 percent down option with five bi-monthly installments, whereas a different plan has a 35 percent down but allows the students to pay in four monthly installments.
In the fall 2015 semester, nearly 15,000 College of DuPage students selected from among 14 different payment plan options.
If/when, a student becomes delinquent on their tuition account or has an outstanding balance, the College notifies the student first via email, followed by a “robo” call, a text message, and a personal call from a member of the Cashiers staff. The student is notified of their balance due, offered assistance and is given several days to rectify their account. Simultaneously, while these contacts are being made, the Enrollment Support Center calls all students prior to actually being dropped. Students are also called after they have been dropped in order to provide assistance with re-registration and payment arrangements. In all, the College is taking several preventative steps to help students avoid non-payment consequences, as well as, individualized assistance if the drop has occurred.
Then, we are still not done! After the communication plan has completed, the list of delinquent students is personally reviewed by the Manager of Accounts Receivable, who analyzes several aspects of their accounts, which includes number of missed installments, percentage paid to percentage delinquent, if financial assistance is pending or has actually been credited to their account. And, we are still not done! The reviewed list is then given to the Manager of the Office of Student Financial Assistance and the Manager of Student Registration Services for their review. Only after 10 action steps of review is the student actually dropped from class.
As I hope I have shown, the College goes the distance to help students meet their financial responsibilities, while creating an environment that responsibly stewards the community investment.
Earl E. Dowling