Payment plans available at a cost
By Sam Allen
The UAF business office bills students anywhere from $25-$75 dollars for setting up a payment plan, and there are no options to have the fee waived, even if you can prove that you’re financially in need.
“We’re in a position to treat everyone the same—the earlier you sign up the better,” Accounts Receivable manager Janis Whitfield said.
Senior double major in Journalism and Film David Leslie has said in the past he’s waited for financial aid and was told by the business office to set up a payment plan to avoid the late fee of $100.
“I was being charged money because I did’t have money,” Leslie said.
Starting last year, financial aid was dispersed ten days before the semester to help remedy this problem. However, this doesn’t account for students who apply for financial aid late, or students who can’t afford to take enough classes to qualify for financial aid.
The payment plan takes seconds to set up online, but the overall cost increases with time.
Over the summer, the cost of setting up a payment plan online is $25, and it increases by $10 dollars in August, then again in September. After the last date to drop classes and receive a full refund, the cost is $75. Signing up for a payment plan in person starts out at $50 dollars and then increases to $75 after the drop date.
Two years ago, the lowest payment plan fee was $50, regardless of when you signed up. The fee has been this amount since Whitfield started working in the business office eight years ago.
“We actually approached the University about reducing fees for early payment,” Whitfield said.
Students have always been able to set up a payment plan, Director of the Business Office Amanda Wall said.
“I look at it like it’s a zero interest loan, it’s a small fee to pay,” Wall said. “You can have up to four months to pay with as little as $25 down.”
Students can register for classes for the fall term starting at the end of April, so they can set up a payment plan early if needed.
Wall said that the company that processes payments for UAF, Touch Net, requires UAF to buy software to process and set up payment plans. She said she didn’t have figures on how much it costs UAF to run their billing through this company.
Wall and Whitfield said that they looked at how other colleges handle payment plans and found that if a student registered for classes in April, he or she would have to be in a payment plan by June or be dropped.
“I’d gladly pay that fee for my daughter to keep going to class, to have a place to live, to have a place to eat,” Whitfield said. about her own daughter who goes to college out of state.