06/01/14 — College: Finance program success

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College: Finance program success

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 1, 2014 1:50 AM

The new payment option for students at Wayne Community College appears to be a positive alternative to the direct loan program, the college's board of trustees said.

The active management payment plan, which allows students to have funds automatically drafted, will be introduced in the fall.

At a special called meeting earlier in the month, the board voted to discontinue participation in the direct loan program, citing concerns about penalties attached to defaulted payments.

The new option, in partnership with Nelnet Business Solutions, allows students to budget costs for tuition and fees over time, said Joy Kornegay, chief financial officer at the college.

The program, she explained, is not a loan so there are no interest fees or credit checks.

Cost to enroll is $25 per semester, with payment plans made via bank draft or charged to a credit card.

Officials at the college are in the process of setting up the program in anticipation of the next round of registration in July.

"It's going to be more beneficial for the students to sign up earlier," she said, noting that the earlier enrollments will allow students to spread out payments more affordably.

One of the reasons Nelnet was chosen, Mrs. Kornegay said, was because it interfaces with the WCC billing system so there will be more of a seamless transition for students. Nelnet actually collects the payments and sets up dates to coincide with the registration and enrollment periods.

"It will be sort of a win-win situation," she said. "We're real excited about this and being able to offer it."

The transition to the new payment option began as soon as the board made the decision to discontinue the direct loan program, Mrs. Kornegay said. She said staff has been preparing marketing materials and information to educate students on the new plan.

Almost immediately, she said, students appeared eager to sign up.

"They asked about summer payment plans," she said. "Students are already asking about it. There's interest in it."

WCC President Dr. Kay Albertson said there hasn't been any negative backlash from the move, with notifications made as soon as the decision was announced.

"It hasn't been overwhelming. We are going to take each student's situation on an individual basis. So far, so good. It hasn't been at all over-the-top," she told the board. "And we did get the materials out to the students who were engaged in the loans, the night that you (the board) made the decision. We sent out the information the next day to all the students who were enrolled (in direct loans)."

Board member Andy Evans said, "This sounds like a good system."

"Other colleges that used Nelnet have nothing but positives to say," Mrs. Albertson said.

Nelnet is reportedly already being used by 28 colleges in the state community college system and more than 800 other educational institutions nationwide.

WCC, meanwhile, is involved in a concerted effort to retain students, the president said. Enrollment has remained steady in recent years, even during the economic decline.

Whether or not the change in how students fund their education will have any impact on enrollment remains to be seen, she said.

"Not having loans in the fall could make a difference," Mrs. Albertson said. "We'll just have to wait and see."