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Tuition payment plan eases financial woes for Ohio State students

Jake Ebright was afraid he would have to drop out of school.
The third-year in business administration at Ohio State already had student loans before the summer, and with less time to work before Fall Semester, Ebright said he wasn’t sure he could earn enough money to pay tuition and other fees before his bill was due.
But Ebright was “saved” by a payment policy change by the university that allowed him and other students to break up payments into four equal installments per semester.
“The student loans wouldn’t have covered my tuition,” Ebright said. “(The policy change) really saved me because I wouldn’t have been able to come up with the money to go this semester.”
Virginia Layton, university director and bursar of OSU’s Office of Financial Services, said the policy change was made for students in similar situations as Ebright.
“We wanted to offer students another option, especially with cash-strapped students working with a shorter summer,” Layton said.
This year, fall classes began Aug. 22, about a month sooner than they did on the quarter system. The first tuition payment was due Aug. 15, and the three subsequent payments will be made in equal installments on the 15th of every month following the initial payment. During fall semester, students on the plan will make payments in August, September, October and November.
Layton estimated that about 10,000 students opted for the four-payments-per-semester option this fall.
In previous years, students could pay tuition in two installments per quarter – an option Layton said only about 4,100 students chose last fall .
“It gives us more time to make up the money so that it’s not such a burden at one time, especially since tuition went up,” said Lauren Jenkins, a second-year in psychology.
Tuition and fees increased 3.2 percent overall for the 2012-2013 school year, which translated to a $312 increase for the average student.
According to an undergraduate admissions website, the annual cost to attend OSU as a resident student is $10,037.
To encourage students to use the new payment option, OSU waived the $40 enrollment fee for both the fall and spring semesters.
“Any dollar helps,” said Doug Wensink, a third-year in forestry, fisheries and wildlife, who doesn’t use the payment plan option to pay his tuition bill. “They can use the $40 for Internet or any other bills.”
Students could enroll in the program through their online student center, but Layton said OSU used several methods to help advertise the option, including sending postcards and emails.
“We tried to get the word out to as many people as possible,” Layton said.
Layton said about 40 percent of OSU students already use loans to help cover the cost of attending college, and that one of the driving reasons behind the new payment option was to help alleviate students’ reliance on borrowing to get through school.
Some students see the benefit.
“They’d be able to worry about paying bills and other things they need to take care of right away and worry about college a little bit later,” Wensink said.

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