Tuition Payment Deadline and Funds Flow Working Group

Background

Student success and timely graduation is a key priority for UT Austin and our students. As we work to enhance the success of our students, we are focused on removing barriers to student success that are within our control, and where changes will make a positive impact on our student’s ability to enroll, persist, and graduate.

The university’s tuition timeline has been identified as a potential barrier to student success, as students must pay their tuition prior to receiving their financial aid and other institutional scholarships. With tuition payment required prior to students receiving funding, there is a possibility of disruption in enrollment for a significant population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students that are supported by financial aid. The result and impact is due to Federal processes, funds may not disburse in time for students to pay their tuition bills prior to the start of classes. In addition, with tuition payment required prior to classes starting, there is insufficient time for registration changes to occur and students to have accurate tuition bill totals prior to the due date. Changes in schedule can impact student tuition bills and aid and may cost students money, impact their aid eligibility, or both.

In November 2019, the Tuition Payment Deadline and Funds Flow Work Group (TPFF) was charged by Rachelle Hernandez and Lori Peterson, with sponsorship by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and Financial and Administrative Services, to simplify the timing and payment processes of students’ tuition and other direct costs bills and to align with the disbursement of financial aid.

The first phase of the TPFF Work Group focused on the current status of the tuition billing and funds flow process for undergraduate students for their fall semester, considered the processes that could be streamlined and remove stress and barriers for student payments, and considered the timing of tuition billing and Federal guidelines for aid disbursement.

Project Charter

  1. Develop a work group that will recommend changes to the tuition payment deadline and timelines to occur subsequent to disbursement of financial aid and post first day of class to support student enrollment and success;
  2. Review the university’s aid funding flow processes; identify recommendations for areas of improvement to ensure that all funds, including CSU and departmental resources, intended for student financial support follow the appropriate Student Accounts process to improve campus coordination in providing financial support to students and ensure good stewardship of student and university funds;
  3. Develop a timeline for implementation and communication of a new tuition payment plan and any potential changes or enhancements to aid funding
  1. Issue: Tuition is due prior to the date financial aid can be disbursed.
    Recommendation: Move the tuition billing due date to be when financial aid disburses to simplify the process for students and use available funds disbursed to pay bills for student direct costs of tuition and housing. Payment deadlines will be reduced to two – the first tuition payment deadline when financial aid disburses, and then only one additional deadline on the 12th class day when students will be automatically put into an installment plan if they have a remainder due.
  2. Issue: Tuition bill and housing bill due dates occur on different dates.
    Recommendation: Align due dates for tuition and housing/dining to be on same days in order to make it easier for students and families to understand their total costs and expected payments. The first, second, and third payments will be the same date for both tuition and housing, and only housing will have a fourth payment date.
  3. Issue: College SS1 scholarships do not automatically pay any outstanding balances for direct costs (including tuition and housing); instead college scholarships are disbursed to students who then must pay any outstanding bills, causing confusion for many students.
    Recommendation: College SS1 scholarships should pay all past due bills and any direct bills due, including current and any installment payments, for direct costs of tuition and housing, before disbursing any remaining funds to students. College SS1 scholarships should pay on the same day as financial aid disburses if possible. Any past due bills would be paid first, and then any remaining funds would pay current direct cost bills. Any remainder owed after all funding is utilized would become a new installment plan.
  4. Issue: Payments that are less than the minimum amount due are not applied to the tuition bill.
    Recommendation: Allow students and families to make payments of any size to be applied to their payment due for current tuition or other bills owed. Minimum amount to be determined as well as allowing different types of payments.
  5. Issue: Students do not understand the tuition payment process and impact on their registration if they do not pay their tuition bill on time.
    Recommendation:  Create a Financial Responsibility Agreement for all students to sign after they register for classes that will help students understand that if they don’t pay their tuition and other bills, they will be automatically entered into an installment plan, their classes may be cancelled, and other important information. Draft Financial Responsibility Agreement attached as Appendix A.
  6. Issue: Many students and families have requested the ability to pay their estimated tuition at the time of registration rather than waiting until a few weeks before classes start.
    Recommendation: Provide ability for students to make a payment towards their estimated tuition bill at the time of registration.

The 6 recommendations for Fall 2021 to improve processes to benefit undergraduate students for fall semester have been approved by the Provost and CFO to begin implementation.  Phase Two for TPFF Work Group is looking at processes for students entering in the spring and summer semesters and improvement efforts on meeting the needs of graduate and professional students.

This project is created with the support of:
Maurie McInnis, Former Executive Vice President and Provost

Darrell Bazzell, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Project Executive Sponsors
Rachelle Hernandez, Senior Vice-Provost for Enrollment Management and Student Success, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

Lori Peterson, Interim Assistant Vice President for Accounting and Financial Management, Financial and Administrative Services

Project Lead
Carolyn Connerat, Associate Vice Provost for Enrollment Management and Student Success
Project Members
Don Aleman, Assistant Director, Business Affairs and Chief Business Officer for Graduate Studies, Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost
Graham Chapman, Executive Director, Academic Information Systems, Enrollment Management and Student Success
Michelle Daniel, Director of Programs, Graduate Student Assembly representative
Steven Ding, Academic Policy Co-Chair, Senate of College Councils representative, Class of 2022
Jay Guevara, Senior Academic Program Coordinator, McCombs School of Business and Past President ACA
Tepera Holman, Director, TIP Program, College of Natural Sciences
Jennifer Love, Director, Texas One Stop
Meghan Meadows, Assistant Director, Budget Office
Julie Meyer, Director, Graduate Student Academic Services, Graduate School
Michele Meyer, Assistant Dean for Engineering Student Services, Cockrell School of Engineering
Hodges Mitchell, Director, Student Accounts Receivable, Financial and Administrative Services
Celena Mondie-Milner, Director, New Student Services, Division of Student Affairs
Juan Ortiz, Director, Enterprise Business Information and Tech Solutions, Financial and Administrative Services
Katie Pritchett, Committee Chair, Faculty Council – B1 Committee on Financial Aid to Students
Adriana Rojas, Director, Business Services for Housing & Dining, Division of Student Affairs
Brenda Schumann, Director, Records and Registration and Deputy Registrar, Office of Registrar, Enrollment Management and Student Success
Diane Todd Sprague, Executive Director, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, Enrollment Management and Student Success
Kathy Uitvlugt, Associate Director, Student Success Initiatives, Enrollment Management and Student Success
Carrie Williams, Tuition Billing Supervisor, Office of Accounting
Preliminary Report

TPFF Working Group overview with key issues and initial recommendations

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