Financial holds take toll on students

Christa Kelly, Staff Writer

number of Augsburg students are struggling as financial holds are preventing them from registering for class, receiving transcripts or completing a degree as the semester draws to a close.

The director of student accounts, Cory Snyder, confirmed that 8.6% of Augsburg students currently have financial holds on their accounts. The Student Financial Services Center staff are working with students to help remedy the problem, but the holds have been slow to be lifted.

Snyder stated that the holds affecting so many student accounts are referred to as “unpaid balance holds.” Snyder explained that these holds are “placed on a student’s account when there is a balance due greater than $200 and the student is not enrolled and current on a payment plan. Holds are automatically removed when a student is paid in full or are manually removed by Student Financial Services staff when a student gets their balance below $200 or agrees to a payment plan.”

Unfortunately, it is not always easy for students to get their balance below this number. With tuition rising across the country, paying is becoming increasingly difficult. This is exacerbated by the elimination of the Federal Perkins Loan program. Begun in the 1960s, the program helped quickly relieve small amounts of debt from students, allowing them to register for and continue with their classes. Snyder notes that this program ended last year, removing an important resource from Augsburg students.

The statistics reflect this fact. On average, 7.5% of Augsburg students have financial holds at this point in the year, and that number is over a percentage point higher this year. Snyder argues that this isn’t because more students began with unpaid tuition but rather because the holds are slower to come off without access to the Federal Perkins Loan program.

First year Ethan Quezada has been through some parts of this process and recommends that students try to work with the Augsburg staff. “The academic advising office was really helpful,” he says. However, he does see some problems within the financial aid office. “They are understaffed, so trying to get in contact with them takes a while.”

“Given all this,” Snyder said, “I think the message that we in Student Financial Services wants to convey to any student with an Unpaid Balance Hold is to please come talk to us. You can stop by the Enrollment Center in Sverdrup Hall or send us a quick email, and someone will most likely respond that same day with information on loan options or payment plan suggestions that can allow you to move forward into the spring even if your fall term balance isn’t paid in full.”

This article was originally published in the Dec. 07, 2018 issue.