Students who fail to pay their tuition bills for the current semester will receive holds on their Simple Online Courseware System (SOCS) accounts.
In the past, students with outstanding financial obligations were barred from registering, and their schedules were deleted. The office of Student Accounts will now restrict SOCS access for students who make no attempt to pay the College or contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance.
The SOCS holds method is meant to inform students they owe money, not to penalize them, Steve Sferra, Student Accounts manager, said.
“We’re here to work with them,” Sferra said. “We’re not here to work against them. We want to see all students succeed.”
SOCS encourages Internet interaction between students and faculty. It lists students’ e-mail addresses, allows professors to post resources or discussion documents and offers an electronic dropbox to submit assignments.
Student Accounts received several complaints that with the SOCS holds it is impossible to obtain required coursework. “Students understandably are not happy that we’ve taken away their access to their key ingredient of getting their assignments,” Sferra said.
Students had three opportunities to pay their fees or apply for the financial aid process this semester.
The initial bills went out on July 28 and were due on Aug. 15. The College gave students a grace period in which late fees were not assessed.
The next bills were sent Sept. 15, with a due date of Sept. 26 and a grace period until Oct. 2. The current bills, issued Oct. 3, are due on Oct. 20.
Approximately 60 students received SOCS holds after the Oct. 2 deadline.
Once students begin the financial aid process or pay a large portion of their bill, the hold is removed and SOCS access is restored the following day.
Sferra said this method is both successful and highly logical. “It’s a service, much like you would be provided outside the College,” Sferra said. “If you don’t make car payments, what are they going to do to you? If you don’t pay the mortgage on your home, what are they going to do? They’re going to repossess these items. So it’s the
same sort of thought aspect for the SOCS holds.”
“Part of the fees that they pay every semester goes to support the SOCS system, and if students don’t pay their fees, we can’t support the system,” Sferra said.
The administration retains the right to “de-register” students if necessary.
However, since the implementation of the SOCS holds, no class schedules have been deleted.
“What we’re trying to do is save the student more work in the long run by just putting a hold on their current classes, than having to have them go through the process of going through multiple offices to get re-registered and get back into the classes,” Sferra said.
He added that because of this method’s effectiveness, it appears that its use will continue in the future.
Since formal warnings of holds are sent through e-mail, there are many concerns that students do not consistently check at their Webmail accounts.
The administration also believes that some students think their parents have already paid the bill, Sferra said.
“We are dealing with adults at the institution, and they have to accept responsibility for their actions and/or their outstanding balances,” Sferra said.
Frank Cooper, director of Records and Registration, said students should be “proactive” and check The Electronic Student Services (TESS). According to Cooper, it is students’ responsibility to view the “Entry Office” link and contact the particular office to remove any hold flags.
If scholars with outstanding bills remain inactive after they receive SOCS restrictions, they will receive registration holds in November.
According to Cooper, those with hold flags will receive an e-mail around Oct. 27. Registration occurs Nov. 10-19.
The specific scheduled dates and time frames for student enrollment can be found at tcnj.edu/~recreg.