University to push electronic billing this spring

Aman Ali

Although it hasn’t decided to completely replace paper billing, the Bursar’s office will continue encouraging students to use electronic billing to pay for their tuition.

“The university as a whole is trying to move to a paperless environment,” Bursar Les Carter said. “Students already can check their grades online and their financial aid reports, so we want to follow by putting bills on the Web.”

He said the Bursar’s office will launch a marketing program later this spring to push e-bill usage among students and parents. Carter said the Bursar’s office is making the push because e-billing is more convenient for the university.

“We’re thinking about the cost of postage,” Carter said. “We could be saving close to $80,000 a year if we made the switch.”

Sara Charleston, manager at the Bursar’s office, added the postage costs don’t include the costs of returned mail. In Fall 2005, 1,071 paper bills were sent back to the university as “undeliverable” because of bad addressing. The cost for paying the return postage was $1,180.

“Many students don’t update their addresses on our system,” Charleston said. “We have a much better chance of getting that e-bill where it needs to go.”

Both Carter and Charleston emphasized the office hasn’t replaced paper billing just yet, but will continue to make the push for a replacement.

“There is a growing segment of the student population that is actively using the e-bill,” Carter said. “Once you look at the e-bill, the beauty is that you can pay it instantly.”

The Bursar’s office has taken other measures to ease the transition into using e-bills. Since July, the Bursar’s office has sent a pamphlet with the paper bills explaining the e-bill program in detail. Students also receive e-mail reminders to check their electronic bills throughout the semester.

The Bursar’s office was concerned e-bills may isolate people who prefer paper billing, which is why it hasn’t made the replacement.

“There are students who don’t even check their Kent e-mail,” Charleston said. “But that is an issue to be resolved by the university as a whole.”

Contact student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].