The University Cashier’s Office serves the citizens of the State of North Carolina by billing and collecting tuition, fees and other charges, accepting and depositing departmental receipts and by servicing UNC-based student loans. They are also responsible for providing financial aid refunds to students at the beginning of each semester and making sure their loans are appropriately administered. In addition, they provide tax statements for students and offer employee tuition, spousal fee, and senior citizen’s audit waivers for the University.
“We provide a lot of behind-the-scenes support to students regarding their financial life,” DeAhn Baucom, the University Cashier explains, “I couldn’t do it without my team.”
Three branches in the Cashier’s Office work together to make sure the student and loan accounts are accurate, billed in a timely manner, properly refunded and understood by the students.
Assistant Director of Accounting and Systems, Angie Davis, and her team review student charges in the ConnectCarolina system to ensure accuracy according to the individual student’s profile. The team uses more than 200 different tuition rules to connect students to the right rates for their academic program, confirming that charges are properly billed, and refunds are generated within University, State and Federal guidelines.
“There are so many factors that can affect the student’s refund,” Davis notes. “Students can withdraw and if it’s not properly recorded, or if the date is entered incorrectly, the student may not receive correct credit to his account for his refund. In other cases, the departments may decide in a semester to drop a class and provide a refund credit for the class, so we have to make sure those changes are honored.”
Business Systems Analyst Beth Williams oversees campus-based loans that are crucial to the financial aid packages that many students are awarded. The majority of these are Perkins loans, which are being replaced by UNC loans. We also service Health Professions and Nurse Faculty loans in addition to long- and short-term university loans.
Associate University Cashier, Kristy Nash, manages customer service and business operations, including payment processing and banking-related functions, direct student service and collections.
“Often, students don’t understand their statements, or they are used to another university’s business processes,” she explains. “It’s important that we make sure their accounts make sense. ”
Nash remembers a chemistry student who missed his first class during summer school but showed up the second day. The professor told the student that he couldn’t take the class if he missed the first day, so the student withdrew from the class.
“It should have been recorded as a class cancellation, but it went into the system as a withdrawal, which meant he was charged 25% of the class,” Nash says. “I had to follow up with the department and the Registrar’s Office several times over the next 3 months before the paperwork was updated and the charges were removed.”
The team shared similar stories on going the extra mile. For instance, helping a student whose direct deposit refund went into an old bank account because she forgot to change her account number; or contacting and educating a student who wasn’t cashing his refund checks because he mistakenly thought that by not cashing them he wouldn’t be accepting the loan; or contacting and educating former students who forgot they had received a campus based loan; or helping cancel an enrollment for a student who enrolled in classes during orientation, but didn’t properly communicate the decision to attend the University. Such cases are out-of-the ordinary, but helping students maintain their financial accounts with the University is important to the department. As the average student loan repayment takes ten years to complete, it’s a long-term financial relationship that relies on their humanistic approach to truly assist the needs of the students, balanced with their duty to be good stewards of the public trust.
Most recently, after hurricane Florence ripped into North Carolina, Baucom and her team joined Vice Provost of Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Steve Farmer’s initiative to set up a Florence hub. Here, students could report to one triage team location to have their varying needs, including individual payment and enrollment cases tracked to completion. This enabled them to communicate quickly with multiple offices in order to resolve issues in a timely, coordinated manner.
“We work very hard to make sure our efforts serve all students on behalf of the State of North Carolina and the University,” Baucom says. “We do whatever it takes to make sure we do the right thing when it comes to their student financial accounts.”