Loyola put students on administrative withdrawal


Photo credit: Hayley Hynes

Katelyn Fecteau

The university began enforcing a financial policy for students with unpaid tuition balances in January by adding over 100 students to an “administrative withdrawal” list and deactivating campuswide IDs

These enforcements were taken to counter the university’s deficit and continue operations such as financial aid, according to Laura Frerichs, vice president of marketing and communications.

Student Financial Services began enforcing this tuition responsibility policy in the fall of 2017. First and second-year students without a payment plan were unable to check in to their residence halls or obtain their room keys. However, those who defaulted on their plans in January were placed on an administrative withdrawal list that included restricted access to their campuswide IDs until a payment plan was reached with Student Financial Services.

Frerichs emphasized the effort that Student Financial Services took to contact and work with students with outstanding balances.

“Nobody likes to do this —at all. Extraordinary efforts are made to make payment plans between parents and students, but when we have exhausted those attempts—six to 12 emails or phone calls on average—measures have to be taken,” Frerichs said.

Despite emails that warned the balance “must be paid in full,” Frerichs said that Student Financial Services was intent on finding a plan that worked with the students and their families rather than the immediate full balance.

“This is all a means to an end to create conversation,” Frerichs said. “When people have defaulted, or are ducking calls, we have no other resource than to force some kind of engagement.”

For students who had unpaid balances after Jan. 7, their campuswide IDs were deactivated during this time and unable to be used for dining or entering any residential halls. These students were notified of this in emails sent on Dec. 29 and Jan. 5 by Amy Boyle, director of Residential Life regarding the possible eviction.

“In order to return to the residence halls, you need to pay your balance to Student Finance before your returned date on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. Until your account is cleared, your card building access and meal plan will be disabled,” Boyle said in the email. The email encouraged students to reach out to the Financial Resource Center.

According to Boyle, phone calls were made to select students or their parents starting Jan. 5, followed by hard-copy letters delivered to those who remained on the list on Jan. 8. A later Residential Life email to those on the administrative withdrawal list warned, “if you are currently living in a Residence Hall, please make arrangements to move out by the end of business on Friday, Jan. 26.”

“It’s unfortunate,” said Frerichs, “but keep in mind your Wolf Bucks or ID swiping are the same as not having funds on a debit card or maxing out your credit card. If the funds are not there, they don’t work. It’s unfortunate, and it’s challenging. We’re willing to work with you and your parents to figure out a payment plan.”

Frerichs said that the students whose IDs were deactivated still had access to their dorm rooms.

“They weren’t locked out of their rooms. Their room keys still worked,” Frerichs said.

According to Frerichs, over 100 students with outstanding tuition balances were initially contacted, which narrowed to 41 students on the final administrative withdrawal list. One student was administratively withdrawn by the end of the warning period on Jan. 26 due to an outstanding tuition balance. They were evicted from the residence halls and not allowed to attend class.

Some students were upset at the seemingly abrupt nature of the emails and the strict ramifications involved, especially since this enforcement is new to the 2017-2018 school year—even if the policy is not.

“We can do better in terms of communication, and we will do better so that students and parents’ expectations can be managed. We recognize these issues are highly personal and quite sensitive, and we try to be respectful of that. We want to avoid this as much as possible. We don’t want your student experience to be jeopardized,” Frerichs said.

The initiative was driven in part by Project Magis, a universitywide plan that focuses on issues such as student retention and cost management.

“We are absolutely liable to deliver a balance to the Board of Trustees,” Frerichs said, which is something that Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs David Borofsky acknowledged.

“I think in some ways we have some policies at the university that we have kind of slipped back under the carpet and forgotten about. We have not been as good at administering them,” Borofsky said. “I think what’s happened is that Project Magis has brought to the forefront that we have a few policies that we need to be more consistent about administering.”

He also added that Carrie Glass, director of financial services, had trouble implementing the policy in the past.

“She has not had support when she has said to students, ‘I’m sorry, you either have to pay or we have to administratively withdraw you.’ She has been overruled. And what I said to her last summer was, ‘That won’t happen while I’m here, because we have a policy and we have to administer it fairly—with empathy—but fairly’,” Borofsky said.

Borofsky also added that the university is working towards a steadier enforcement of university policies.

“We have to manage our university both from a finance perspective and from a consistency perspective better than we have been,” he said.

For the over 100 students on the preliminary administrative withdrawal list, all but one have reactivated IDs and financial plans in place for the spring 2018 semester.