Pay your bills!

Attention all students who paid any bills to NIU this semester: You have been the victims of an underhanded new policy instigated by the Bursar’s Office. As you may recall, the Bursar’s Office adopted a new finance charge policy this semester and kindly sent out a warning to all students this past summer. However, the letter explaining the new policy did not clarify the system nearly as well as it might have. The innocent-looking letter used benign terms like “revolving credit” and “15 percent interest.” Terms it should have used include “sticking it to the students” and “usury.”

You see, the new plan charges every student 15 percent interest on every penny of tuition, fees and room and board from the first day your bill is GENERATED by the Bursar’s Office. Now, they do give you a 14-18 day “grace period” and if you pay your ENTIRE bill within this time you do not have to pay the interest that accumulated.

To make this plan really clear, let’s use an example. Say you paid all of your tuition, fees, etc., except for $1, by the early August due date. You probably received a new bill around the middle of August with the balance of your account (only $ 1) shown on it. Also, there will be an interest charge appearing on this bill. Most people would expect this interest to be based only on the amount they still owe NIU, and, considering the amount they owe is only $1, the interest should be pretty minimal. WRONG! The interest which will appear on your new bill will be what accumulated on the ENTIRE AMOUNT you owed NIU since the day the Bursar generated your bill in JULY. Therefore, the interest payment reflected on this bill will be SIGNIFICANTLY greater than the mere $1 that you still owe for tuition, fees, etc. Remember, if you had paid your entire bill in early August, they would have waived this interest that had been accruing all summer, but since you didn’t pay the whole bill, you now owe interest on money you paid the university over a month ago. Pretty nice racket they have going here, isn’t it?

The thing is that few students realize what is going on with this new policy and the few that do know probably have little choice in when they can afford to pay their bills. The Bursar is purposely taking advantage of the student with this new policy. As a matter of fact, when I questioned the legality of this policy, I was assured by a woman behind the counter at the Bursar’s Office that they had brought in a “team of lawyers” to help them come up with this new moneymaking scheme. It now seems clear that whenever NIU needs a “team of lawyers” to do anything, the students had better tighten their grips on their wallets.

Kimberly Sullivan

Graduate Student

Political Science