Students with delinquent bills at the University of Toledo are in for rude awakenings when classes start later this month, and the wake-up call already has hit Bowling Green State University.
Officials at both UT and BGSU are enforcing policies this year that will disenroll any student not in good financial standing or who lack payment plans for overdue bills before fall classes begin. Such students won't be able to take any classes and will lose dormitory rooms until they make good on their bills or start a payment plan.
University of Toledo students have until Sunday, the day before classes start, to pay, or they'll be cut. After that, they'd have until Aug. 31 to add classes for the fall semester.
In the past, the university waited until payment delinquencies stretched into spring semester to start penalizing students.
Larry Burns, UT's vice president of external affairs, said he expects between 500 and 600 students will be invalidated, the school's term for its new policy.
"I hope it's less than that," he said.
Bowling Green has had the policy for years, but enforcement was lax, especially in recent years during rough economic times, spokesman David Kielmeyer said. The attempt at benevolence proved to be a disservice in some cases, he said, because students whose bills stayed unpaid were eventually kicked out of dorm rooms and shut out of classes midway through the semester.
"This is a policy that's really in the best interest of the student and the university," Mr. Kielmeyer said.
Bowling Green's deadline to pay was Wednesday, and the university bursar's office was busy. Mr. Kielmeyer said he didn't expect the number of students invalidated to be significant.
Officials at both schools said they've done messaging blitzes so that students knew deadlines, what they needed to do, and the consequences for unpaid bills. They've sent out emails, postcards, social-media messages, and more.
Both said decisions would be case-by-case. Bowling Green supervisors can waive the policy, for instance, if a student shows a good-faith effort or has exigent circumstances.
The universities' benefits include reductions in uncollectible debt. University officials said the new enforcement -- along with the corresponding awareness campaign -- will get bills paid sooner and allow students to focus on coursework instead of their educational finances. It also could open up seats in high-demand classes occupied by students who may never have really planned to attend.
"We found that there were a number of students who had registered for class, owed money, and never intended on coming," Mr. Burns said. "So it made it difficult for students to get into classes they needed."
Though both universities instituted similar policies at the same time, Mr. Burns said that was a coincidence. Mr. Kielmeyer called the policies fairly common for universities.
Alex Solis, president of the BGSU Undergraduate Student Government, said the policy is a matter of fairness. Students can find themselves in a class for which they have spent significant amounts of money sitting next to others effectively there for free.
"If they are receiving the same education as I am, it's not fair," he said. "That's what it really comes down to."
Students he talked to were aware of the new enforcement policy and pushed to get their bills paid on time. He complimented the university's outreach efforts, which he said stretched back to the spring.
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