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Payment changes set stage for semester conversion

With the semester switch three months away, officials announced changes to tuition payments and different options offered for upcoming quarters and semesters.

The notice, sent out Monday by co-chairs of the Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee, Randy Smith and Steven Fink, said the Tuition Option Payment Plan would still be available to students.

“To help with the transition, the university has increased the number of TOPP installment payments to four per semester for the 2012-2013 academic year and is waiving the enrollment fee for both Autumn and Spring semesters,” according to the email.

According to the Office of the University Registrar website, TOPP is a payment plan that allows families or students to split up tuition fees into two installments over the quarter for a $10 fee.

The email said students will also have the ability to use a credit card to pay tuition. These payments will be processed through SallieMae and will accept MasterCard, Discover and American Express for online payments, according to the registrar website. SallieMae also charges a non-refundable 2.75 percent fee per credit card payment.

“Both the TOPP and credit card tuition payment options may help in managing the larger, earlier billings of the semester system,” according to the email. “These options may be especially helpful during the 2012-13 academic year, when the shorter summer of 2012 will limit students’ opportunities to earn money for the coming year.”

President E. Gordon Gee told The Lantern on Feb. 6, he is happy with the conversion’s progress and university officials have made sure the switch is on schedule.

“All the processes are in place, on time. We could do it today,” Gee said. “We could do it today, we’re about four months out and we’re not scrambling.”

Dolan Evanovich, vice president of Strategic Enrollment Planning, said the Office of Student Financial Aid is helping students plan for two semester payments, instead of three quarterly ones.

“Student Financial Aid is concerned primarily with effective communication and helping students to adjust to managing budgets in a two-semester (rather than three-quarter) environment,” Evanovich said in the email.

Diane Stemper, director of Student Financial Aid, said the office provides assistance to students when it comes to tuition and will continue to do so.

“OSU invests a significant amount of resources to assist our students. This year our institution invested $108 million in student scholarships and grants,” Stemper said. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we provided an additional $17 million from 3,500 established scholarship accounts. More than 25,000 undergraduate students received assistance from these institutional sources.”

According to the OSU email, semester handbooks for academic advisers are also available online.

“The conversion to semesters will result in changes to practices, procedures and policies, from course numbers and meeting patterns to the disbursement of financial aid to students,” according to the email. “The semesters handbook for academic advisors includes information about many of these changes.”

Evanovich said the Office of the University Bursar is still working together with the University Registrar and the Office of the CIO to create a plan “that fulfills accounting needs, while providing the best possible information and service to students who are eligible to receive May session credit.”

The official first day of semesters will be June 18, according to the OSU email and Summer Semester will be the first official semester.

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