Worst surprise ever: Student owed $5,000 before registering


Photo from archives

by Maddie Travis, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Registration at Simpson College is a stressful time trying to fit in all the classes necessary to graduate.

For some students, registration can be especially difficult due to holds in the business office. For others, such as Megan Frank, registering for classes was nearly impossible after learning she owed nearly $5,000 to the business office.

At Simpson, registration is scheduled by grade level and credits. Seniors with the most credits register first, while freshmen typically register last. Frank, a freshman at Simpson, found she was in trouble when she checked the requirements for registration.

“In my SC class, they were talking about business holds, and my SC leader said it was probably a loan that hadn’t gone through,” Frank said. “I didn’t really know what it meant because it doesn’t really give you any details.”

When she checked her SC Connect portal, Frank found she owed more than $5,000. Students aren’t made aware of these holds until they check for themselves on SC Connect.

They then wonder why they weren’t made aware of this sooner. Or in Frank’s case, she wondered how it was possible to rack up that much money when she hasn’t even been at Simpson for a whole semester.

Frank was not allowed to register for spring semester classes until her hold was lifted.

“I’ve been on registration hold since Oct. 11,” Frank said. “So, since I couldn’t register, a lot of classes are full. My SC Leader and I met for an hour this Saturday trying to figure out my schedule.”

She assumed her hold was due to a parent loan her mom needed to finish. Once it was completed, Frank submitted the receipt to the business office. But the hold wasn’t lifted until she personally visited the business office five days after submitting the receipt.

Cathy Hoch, vice president for business and finance division, explained the notification process.

“Students receive statements at home addresses in July,” Hoch said. “If there is still an outstanding balance in September, a statement is sent to the student’s campus box. If there is still an outstanding balance in October, another statement is sent.

“The September and October statements would have included a highlighted note indicating that a hold would be placed on the account preventing registration.”

Frank said she saw the note on her SC Connect home page but did not mention whether she received a note in her student mailbox. However, she said the process needs to be looked at again.

“I think they need to specify your note in your SC (Connect) a bit more, or tell you what the cause is instead of sending the same note out to everybody,” Frank said.

Hoch said there are no plans to fix the processes.

“We work closely with students and the financial assistance office to resolve outstanding balances,” Hoch said. “Our hold policies are more liberal than the policies of most of our peer institutions.”

Frank’s hold was lifted after she went to the business office following her interview for The Simpsonian and she was able to register for second semester classes.