Reported by Evette Champion
Thirty-five students of Paine College have been dropped from the roster due to non-payment of their tuition. The college claims that “tough decisions” needed to be made in order to reduce the school’s debt and also help Paine get off the probation sanction with the accrediting body.
The college released a statement on Wednesday via interim President Samuel Sullivan. The students in question had balances that reached $12,000 and stretched beyond 18 months. It was up to the administrators to take extreme measures. Some administrators visited the student’s dorms, making phone calls and even sending emails—all in the effort to get the students to pay up.
“Although this is unfortunate, we must protect the college’s financial future and work to be in compliance with the guidelines that were set forth by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges,” Sullivan said in the statement. “This is the last thing we want to do, but we must be held accountable.”
Although 35 students were let go, they only make up 5 percent of the student body, which is 699 students. The administrators continue to have aggressive fundraising campaigns in order to strengthen the school’s financial base and correct the failures of previous management which led to the financial predicament the college is facing with the accreditation board. A commission was placed on Paine in June which led to the school being on probation due to 10 accreditation standards which range from management of federal issued student financial aid to hiring qualified financial officers. The probation is the highest sanction that can be given before the accreditation is revoked.
It is not unusual for colleges to drop students who do not pay their tuition— some schools will automatically drop students after a particular date if their accounts are not up to date and paid. In fact, many institutions will not allow students to register for a new semester if they have an outstanding debt from the previous semester.
Some institutions will allow their students to remain enrolled in school even though they may be a semester or two behind in payments. Mike Reilly, the executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, believes this practice can hurt the financial base of a school and can help cause the students to fall even further into debt.
“Institutions think they’re doing students a favor by extending some opportunities to get financially together, but most people discover that just doesn’t help,” he said. “You fall behind several terms, suddenly you owe the institution with no real means to generate the money to pay it back.”