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Free My Funds

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The University of Utah sent me a letter stating its concern over receiving tuition payments from students this semester. The letter had that recession-induced overtone of a credit shark calling on you to step-up and pay your bills.

Normally, I just ignore these types of “pay now or get out” notices and do what I can when I can. The problem was that the U’s financial aid office had screwed up on a billing code and, as a result, my Stafford loans—which are meant to cover the cost of tuition—were in limbo. As a result, the U also held on my UCope and federal Perkins loans.

The problem was that I planned on only partially paying my tuition with the student loans, while providing for other basic needs such as shelter for my family, feeding my 6-year-old child and procuring back-to-school supplies, not only for myself, but also for my child. This money was held for a week and a half.

Meanwhile, my yearlong-parking pass from the previous year expired, which prompted the U to start citing me for illegal parking on campus.

When I make mistakes, I try to show a little tact and humility when I’m fixing them. I don’t threaten people who aren’t responsible, and I don’t penalize people and make them go through a time-consuming and demeaning appeal process (such as is the case at the U of U Parking Services).

I don’t know if the process is just overautomated or if this is really how business gets done these days in higher education. But if an institution is trying to collect money that it disabled itself from receiving, please don’t send me a letter. I’m busy with schoolwork and responding to the other institutions I now owe money to in penalties and late fees as a result of this fiasco.

Tyler Simpson
Salt Lake City

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