Paper bills may become obsolete in digital world

Katie Greenwald

KSU switches toelectronic bills to save money

Credit: Andrew popik

Eliminating paper tuition bills will save tuition dollars, university officials say.

The university is establishing an online billing system that could be activated as early as summer 2005.

Bursar Leslie Carter estimates the university will save $35,000 annually in postage alone.

On top of savings from postage, Kent State will save thousands of dollars each semester by not printing the paper items that accompany tuition bills in the mail, Carter said.

Some students aren’t open to the change.

“I’d rather have a paper form (of my bill) come in the mail,” said Patrick Troutman, sophomore biology major.

Tuition bills in paper form will be available through at least fall 2005. They will be sent in addition with the electronic bill. After fall, it’s possible that bills sent through the postal service will be eliminated.

The university is trying to save time and money by implementing electronic bills, said Sara Lynn Charleston, manager at the Bursar’s Office.

“We knew the budget crunch was coming,” Carter said, and the Bursar’s Office started looking into making electronic bills last year.

The Internet bills are also designed to improve efficiency when it comes to students and parents receiving their bills, Charleston said.

She said many times students move and forget to update their addresses with the Bursar’s Office. The university then has to pay for the bill to be sent out to the wrong address, then again to the correct address. This also causes a time delay for students waiting for their bills.

“We can get bills to students and parents faster” with the electronic system, Charleston said.

Charleston said she is hopeful the electronic bills will be available this summer.

Paper bills will still be sent out until students and parents start getting used to the idea of finding them online.

“We’re hoping in short order we’ll be able to wean people off paper,” Charleston said. “It depends on how well it’s received.”

But it might not be so well received by Troutman. He’s concerned about the computer system shutting down.

“You gotta trust the postal service,” he said.

Charleston has a solution for Troutman’s worries: Students should try to pay their bills a few days before they are due.

Students will receive a FlashLine e-mail when their bills are ready to view. At that time, students can view their bills at

Contact student financial reporter Katie Greenwald at [email protected].