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Billing Office Sends Notices Over E-Mail

2,000 Students Receive On-Line Messages That Spring Term Payments Are Late

By Geoffrey C. Upton

Keeping up with technology, the Student Billing Office sent e-mail messages for the first time last Friday to the 2,000 undergraduates whose payments for the spring term had not reached the office by the deadline, January 19.

Following the lead of billing offices at other Ivy League schools, and after consulting the registrar and Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68, Student Billing went online this year to inform students that they were not financially cleared to register, according to Susan L. Schnare, the manager of the Billing Office.

"We discussed this with other universities and it seemed like a good way of getting in touch with most students," Schnare said. "We don't like to see people in our office on registration day."

About 150 students replied to the message via e-mail, Schnare said, and some students calling about the message Friday afternoon waited on the phone as long as 20 minutes.

Schnare said that the response was "generally good," but she said some students complained that the office should have contacted their parents.

Other students said that they did not want to be bothered about accounts in the midst of studying for finals.

Timing the messages appropriately is the most difficult aspect of using e-mail, Schnare said.

"If you do it much earlier then people say, 'The payment's not due until the 19th, why is she telling me now?'" she said.

The messages, which were sent to each student whose spring payments had not been received, read in part: "We would like you to know that as of 18 January 1996 you are not financially cleared to register. Payment for this term should be made immediately."

Most payments not paid by the deadline will be received by spring registration, Schnare said, after parents send payments in and students decide whether they want to take the semester off.

Schnare said she thought that the use of e-mail was successful based on the number of immediate inquiries.

"Judging from the response we got," Schnare said, "a lot of people must check their e-mail very frequently."

Schnare said the billing office is planning to increase its use of the Internet in upcoming years, perhaps through a web page on which students could check their account balances.

"It's a really good idea," she said. "And probably in a couple of years we'll be there."

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