Students blind sided by late fees, ironically it arrives late

Every week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff. 

This semester St. Edward’s University has implemented an unfair but necessary policy: fees on late tuition payments. This policy unfairly punishes students who may not have the financial means to pay the late fees.

Students who are not enrolled in the tuition payment plan and have late balances greater than $500 as of the payment due date will be charged a late fee of $75. 

Students enrolled in the monthly payment plan with past due amounts that exceed $500 will be charged $25 on each late scheduled payment. 

Any student with pending financial aid will not be penalized, assuming the credit covers their balance. 

“A late fee has been discussed for many years, but we began seriously considering the fee over nine months ago to present to the board,” said Peter J. Beilharz , the university’s bursar.

Beilharz crafted the policy proposal and the Board of Directors approved it. This decision while unfair was necessary. 

This new policy seems like yet another fee that students are expected to pay on top of an increased tuition.  It seems like just another attempt for St. Edward’s to accrue money, and frankly an unfair policy to students that have struggled to fund their own education and now have a late fee to contend with. 

There is a reasoning behind the move, Beilharz said.

“As the university has grown, a larger percentage of students have not been paying by the published deadlines,” he said. “The university does not drop students for non-payment like the majority of other universities.”

This means that when students don’t make their payments on time, the university has to put aside an amount of money in the budget to cover them.  

The money that is being set aside could potentially be used for other projects, such as more scholarships, events or even more professors. 

This becomes an issue when the amount of students making late payments continues to grow. 

If St. Edward’s had been charging late fees decades ago then this would not have become an issue. 

The university has acted very relaxed about late tuition payments for awhile now. Yes, students do receive emails about it, but there’s a lack of a sense of urgency to pay on time. Because of this the implementation of this new policy seems almost random. 

Maybe the university should take a piece of advice that has long been hammered into students’ minds: do not procrastinate. That is exactly what it did before the implementation of the new policy.  

Beilharz said that the university does not want to attempt to punish students who struggle with making payments. 

The university urges students to visit the financial services office if they are having trouble with making their payments on time. Beilharz also said that the majority of students getting late fees aren’t the ones who are getting financial aid. 

If the people whose habit of late payments prompted the new policy are those that do not receive financial aid, then it means that they are financially stable. Struggling students are now suffering for the behaviors of wealthier students.

This is an unfair policy that unfortunately cannot be avoided. When students enter the real world and pay a bill late there are fees. 

Perhaps the university should have been charging late fees from the get go.

Now, the righteous must suffer with the wicked.