Students stamped with Tech post office fee

Students logging on to Eagle online during advisement week may have incurred a tardy $14 Tech post office box fee. While converting from the old S.I.S. data system to the new Banner system, all records regarding student post office box information did not simply convert over onto student accounts.

“So, the only choice we had was to wait for the final conversion – or to charge everybody. And we chose to wait because not everybody is required to have one, “Bursar Carolyn Gernt said.

According to Post Office Supervisor Michael Huddleston, only full-time undergraduate students are currently required to have a campus PO Box, further entailing why the Business Office decided to refrain from charging the fee to all student accounts.

“Normally, it would have been on the account as soon as you calc[ulat]ed your fees, which would have been in July, [but] we didn’t have the data in the system to tell us [who] had a PO Box. . . So we had to wait until all the data from the old system was converted into the new one before we could even count the charge.”

While students may only have noticed the post to their account in recent days, Gernt said the fee has been posted for a while now.

“It actually went on the accounts on August 26, and it’s been on Eagle Online ever since then,” Gernt said.

“Your billing statement . . . is only done like once a month. It should only go on students who have a balance. Right now you have two billing statements out there, one for September 30 and one for November 3 – and that’s just the date that goes on the statement. If you owed anything else it’s going to show it.”

While this charge to full-time undergraduate accounts came approximately a week later than other incurred University charges at the beginning of the semester, many students are only recently noticing the amount due to the business office.

“A lot of students don’t go back and look at their account [after the beginning of the semester], and they should,” Gernt said.

“They should because traffic fines go on. They may not even realize they got a traffic fine. Right now, we send them an e-mail when that traffic fine hits their account. But they’re responsible – there’s 10,000 students. With a traffic ticket, it may be a mistake. Well, they have time to appeal it. If they don’t look at their account or read their e-mail, they run out of time, and they can’t appeal a ticket. You need to check your account periodically.”

While student are currently receiving e-mail reminders regarding parking fines, student s may not have received an e-mail from the University regarding the late charge to their Eagle online accounts.

“Not on the $14 dollars. I did not [send] it. And part of the reason I will tell you is because, it was just, we were swamped. But it is not atypical,” Gernt said.

“We did tell everybody, and we did send out an e-mail – I can’t remember when I sent it out but said that – and we did tell people in SOAR, we did tell freshman that their PO Box would be probably late going on this semester but not to panic. And I do think I sent out a mass e-mail. I would have to go back and prove it because that’s been like three or four months ago – that in the body of the e-mail somewhere it said something about some charges may be late going on.”

Gernt added, “I don’t want to leave anybody with the impression that we would put stuff on and not send e-mails, we try to do it – I’m not going to guarantee we did do it this time. “

While students may have not paid this fee, Gernt stated that this should not affect the student’s ability to register for upcoming Spring 2009 classes. However, due to a Thursday TBR deadline required by the business office, official confirmation from the head of the business office could not be obtained by The Oracle as of press time.

However, a student who has not paid this, or other outstanding University fees posted to a student’s account, in full will encounter complications in the spring.

“They will not be able to confirm their schedule next semester without paying all of it. And if they owe any balance, we will not release transcripts, “Gernt said.

“Also, if they [try to] go on a deferred payment plan or something like that, they have to pay that $14 before they do that. Because it will not let them go on if they have any prior balance – tuition, books, anything they owe on their student account – they cannot go on the deferred payment plan if they owe something.”

Students are encouraged to log in to their online account to ensure they do not sustain any current balances to the University at this time.

As for the purpose of the $14 post office box fee, Huddleston said, “I’m not for sure, but I’m assuming that goes into the budget for the post office – I’m not sure what that goes toward.