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Late fees assessed with little leeway

By Jenny Rose
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday Apr. 30, 2002

GPSC representative seeks to streamline fee appeals process

Jim Collins was shocked when another student told him that the Bursarās Office charged him nearly $500 in late fees when he added a class and dropped another.

The news prompted the Graduate and Professional Student Council representative into pressuring the university to adapt a more comprehensive appeals process for these late fees.

Collins is concerned that the current appeals process does not offer students an ample chance to have fees refunded if their department or the Bursarās Office is to blame for the charge.

ć(UA) shouldnāt build in these traps to catch the unwary,ä Collins said. ćThereās almost no way to do it right, no matter how careful you are.ä

He said the only way for students to appeal the late fees is to blame the department under which their course is listed.

UA Bursar Jean Johnson said students can file an appeal to have a late fee waived. At that point, the studentās situation would get reviewed by an anonymous committee of students and administrators. A majority vote would then determine whether the student would be required to pay the late fee.

She said many times the Bursarās Office will waive payment of a fee in extreme circumstances.

Johnson said students were notified of the charge in the semiannual flier sent out by the Bursarās Office, which explains how the office assesses fees.

Anthony Cali, a freshman majoring in Spanish and business, said he was charged the $250 census fee after missing the deadline to add a general education class.

Cali said the Honors College offered to turn in the drop/add form for him but was told by the Bursarās Office that he needed to hand in the form himself.

He said after Sept. 11, he was too preoccupied to remember to hand in the drop/add form.

When he went to the Office of Curriculum and Registration with a letter from Mari Heltne, associate dean of the Honors College, explaining his situation, Cali was still assessed a late charge.

He did not appeal the charge because he did not think it would do any good.

ćI figured that if they didnāt accept a letter from the associate dean of the Honors College, they werenāt going to listen to me,ä he said.

Johnson said a student in Caliās position could have gotten the fee waived by explaining to the Bursarās Office that he or she received poor advice from a department or college employee.

She said that students must talk to the Bursarās Office, not the Office of Curriculum and Registration, which is responsible for adding and dropping classes but not assessing fees.

ćIn the best possible of worlds, students would be registered and paid on the first day of the semester,ä Johnson said. ćAll you should have to worry about is class, not the bureaucracy.ä

Johnson said the Bursarās Office is accountable for the late fees assessed to students.

Collins said if the student is unaware of the late fees charged to the account by the Bursarās Office and does not pay them, the student will also be charged with a $250 census fee, which the office began charging in January.

If a student adds classes after the census date, when the Legislature decides how much money is owed to the university, UA does not get reimbursed for the credit hours added.

Johnson said the $250 census fee that is assessed does not begin to cover the funds that would have been supplied by the Legislature.

She said the census charge is assessed on the 21st day of each semester. The census date for the fall 2002 semester is Sept. 16.

Beginning in February, the Bursarās Office began assessing unpaid accounts with a 1.5 percent interest rate until the accounts were paid in full. Collins said this makes him worry about fees adding up for students who are not aware that they have been charged.


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