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Cashier’s Office main source of registration holds

During the registration period, holds on accounts are often mentioned in the context of unfair treatment from the university to its students.

Once holds are placed on students’ accounts, students are unable to access their transcript, register and even graduate.

“It doesn’t matter whether you owe a penny or $5,000,” UNF Bursar Margaret Partyka said.

The Controller’s Office system records all fines imposed on the students’ accounts by various departments and places a hold on each of these accounts programmatically overnight, she said.

The fee can come from any department at school, Partyka said. It can be the Cashier’s Office, which is currently responsible for more than 50 percent of holds, the Women’s Center, Library or the bookstore.

“We had thousands of students on financial hold this semester,” Partyka said. “It is more than
I’d like.”

Even though it prevents students from academic progress, most of the offices agree this system is very effective.

“Many students don’t react to e-mails, but they do react to holds,” said College of Arts and Sciences academic adviser Liz Wondell. “Is it beneficial? In terms of academics, probably not.”

Each department has its own policy for deciding which cases result in fees on MyWings accounts.

“Our account doesn’t even start unless it reaches $2,” said Robb Waltner, head of Access Services.

The Library fines people only for two reasons, Wondwell said.

One is for items that have been checked out and are now overdue and second are fines the Library charges for items that were never returned.

“The purpose is not to sneak up on anybody. We send multiple letters and e-mails to people to remind them of the overdue books,” Wondwell said.

But, the COAS advising office uses the dean’s hold as a means to make sure students appear for advising after a period of probationary status.

“Our students are notified verbally about what happens if they don’t meet what is required of them,” Wondell said. “And they have to keep that in their mind.”

About one quarter of all holds ultimately end up involving a third person, such as a collection agency. Students first get a pre-collection letter that gives them a chance to pay their debts within a 30-day period without having to pay the collection fees.

“The problem is half of the students don’t even make it through 2nd payment,” Partyka said.

Some students perceive referring debtors to collection agency as unnecessary and inadequate at making students pay on time.

“If you don’t have the finances, then how can you pay it?” said Tiffany Moore, international studies junior. “People get parking tickets because they don’t have the money to buy a parking pass in the first place.”

However, the holds process is used all across Florida to make collections, Waltner said.

But changes have been implemented to avoid unfair treatment of students, Partyka said.

“Parking Services now lifts a hold for the period of time during which the parking ticket is appealed and a decision is made,” Partyka said. “Students can appeal any fine placed on their account by filing out a fee petition. However, they appeal the fee, not the hold.”

The COAS advising office along with the Controller’s Office and Access Services strongly encourage students to keep track of holds on their account.

“Stay on top of it by checking your MyWings account and your e-mail on a regular basis at least once a week,” Wondell said. “It’s easy to find it and it can save you a lot of worries.”

E-mail Andrea Farah at [email protected].

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