Friday, March 28, 2008

"The Terminal" Situation Launches Financial Concerns

Replace the airport with a library and Tom Hanks with sophomore Marco Chomut and GW has a story that rivals "The Terminal" plot right on campus.

My friends and I were shocked to read in this week's Hatchet about a student who actually had to resort to living in the library for the past month due to what began as a small bureaucratic complication. According to the Hatchet:
Chomut's troubles began during his first semester as a freshman, when a registration hold was placed on his student account because his records did not verify a mandatory vaccination, he said. After the paperwork cleared, he registered for classes in February 2007 for the spring 2007 semester, Chomut said.
While even Chomut admits that he probably could have done more initially to avoid the situation, this is not the first I've heard about a bureaucratic complication blocking student registration and snowballing into academic/financial disaster.

I understand GW's operational costs are huge and require student funding. Also, that it's difficult to compel students to do anything, much less something costly like paying a multi-thousand dollar tuition bill. However, I doubt that even one student has ever just completely disregarded paying their tuition forever. And, if that's the case, GW's academically-handicapping registration hold policy is too harsh and unnecessary.

Sometimes students need a couple extra weeks to iron-out financial, among other, details. GW is not a tax-collection agency; it's an educational institution. If student's failing to pay tuition is not a rampant problem on campus, then GW is responding inappropriately.

I propose that GW institute a one-time grace period for students who have failed to comply with financial, or some other paperwork obligation, by registration time. With this policy, students who do not have a history of irresponsibility would still be able to register for classes and have a certain window of time to fulfill their obligations to the University. If, after that time, the student fails to fulfill his obligations, then GW has the right to automatically drop that student from his courses.

While the risk of GW not getting its money is minimal, with a registration hold, a student losing out on necessary classes is almost guaranteed.

Email the Office of the Registrar at to suggest this, or another, registration hold policy.

Come back to GWBlogspot for updates on this issue.

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