By: Nilo Exar, Staff Writer
Towson University is now managing payment installment plans for tuition payments in-house, rather than having a private company handle such plans.
“We have always had a payment plan for students in the foreseeable past, but it was done through a private company… [they] did all of the arrangements, all of the customer service, but we decided that it would be better for the students and the school to bring it in house,” Bursar’s Office Assistant Director of Financial Operations, Michael Oakley, said.
The new “Tiger Installment Plan,” which was officially introduced this semester, allows students to space out their tuition payments over time, rather than having the entire semester’s payment being due on one day. The major difference is that now the Towson University Financial Aid Office handles the service by receiving payments and offering customer service in-house. This is a change from those services being offered from the private company, Nelnet, and the “Nelnet Deferred Payment Plan.”
However, on the student side, little has changed.
“For the student, this shouldn’t look any different,” Oakley said. “Although it’s very different on our side, the mechanics of it are almost identical to how it worked in the past.”
Oakley notes that there was a delay in communication with Nelnet, and a delay in the information that the school received. He added that even though the office has not advertised the new program that much, more students have taken advantage of the plan. But he still wants to reach out to those who could benefit from the plan.
Oakley said that there are instructions via a link on the Bursar’s webpage which detail what the program, how it works, and also has an FAQ with questions that they’ve received.
“Essentially, it’s [located] in the Student Center under the finances tab, and where it says ‘make a payment – pay your bill,’ there is a link directly under it that says ‘Tiger Installment Plan,’” Oakley said.
Oakley added that sign up takes no more than fifteen minutes. Right now, the program offers four months of payment for any term, although they are exploring having plans that extend longer than four months. There is also a reduced enrollment fee for the payment plan for those who sign up in the first week. This also helps the Bursar’s office organize the plans and know how much each students needs before the semester begins.
“The standard enrollment is $40, but if they sign up in that first week or so, they get a reduced a fee of $30. It’s not a huge difference, but every dollar counts,” Oakley said.
While Oakley believes the plan has been successful thus far, the Bursar’s office always appreciates feedback of any kind to help better shape the plan for the needs of students.
“We want to hear that feedback, though. We want to hear the feedback from the students to know – is it working, is it not? Are there any improvements we could make?” Oakley said.