Paying bills causes confusion for Cabrini students

By Arielle Friscia Amanda Carson
December 3, 2009

Shannon Keough

Many students dread the day when the bill for their college tuition comes. For some students, settling their financial accounts with the college goes smoothly, while others experience confusion.

Often times, those with tuition problems must go back and forth between the financial aid office in Grace Hall and the business office in the Mansion.

“My parents decided they were going to change the way they were going to pay the school,” Matthew Rowe, senior business administration major, said. “Trying to coordinate this with the school was a hassle because I was told by both offices that I needed to go to the other office.”

The business office and the financial aid office are two separate, yet interdependent, offices. One is where students pay their actual bills; the other helps students receive money to pay the bills. Although differentiating each office’s purpose seems simple enough, financial uncertainties seem to blur each office’s distinction amongst the students.

“The confusion is natural and common at any college,” Mike Colahan, director of financial aid, said.

“The first thing you should know is that you can come to both offices at any time,” Carol Morgan, accounts receivable manager at the business office, said.

The business office’s purpose is to circulate money received from student’s tuition and in turn pay the bills for the school and oversee department and office budgets. It also works to clarify billing uncertainties.

“When students first receive a balance statement they should come to us directly,” Morgan said.

The business office staff makes themselves available during pre-registration. Students are reminded that billing issues should be settled promptly and the office says it is willing to help.

“Our office would determine what you’re eligible for at a state level and federal level,” Colahan said.

It also works to determine a student’s scholarship eligibility, that is, money coming directly from the school.

“We help you answer how you will pay a percentage of a bill,” Colahan said.

The financial aid office works with students individually to apply for government funding and track applications.

Though many feel that combining the offices would make the process easier, they must stay separate for government regulatory purposes.

Students feel there’s a lack of communication between two offices because they constantly have to walk back forth between the two offices.

Some colleges and universities have tried to make it more convenient for students by putting the two offices in one location.

“The two offices are in separate sections, but they all remain in one building,” Emily Brennan, a Fairleigh Dickinson student, said. “It’s a lot easier because I get to kill two birds with one stone.”

Some think it would be more convenient for the offices to being put in the same vicinity, but for now they will remain in separate buildings. Both offices agreed that it would be easier if they were in the same building.

“You may still feel like a ping-pong ball, but at least your not going out in the weather,” Colahan said.

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Arielle Friscia Amanda Carson

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