Paper billing replaced by electronic statements

Though historic buildings line Guilford’s campus, and the comforting smell of burning wood coming from the Hut can be nostalgic, other items are changing to align the college with the twenty-first century.

Greg Bursavich, vice president for finance, told The Guilfordian the college is unveiling a new billing process in the next few months

“We are eliminating paper bills,” said Bursavich. “Everything will be accurate, online and in real-time under the new system we are putting in place.”

Students will now be billed using a secure portal that will provide electronic statements.

“From that portal, students will be able to process immediate electronic payments for all enrollment related charges,” said Bursavich.

Along with online payments, there will be enhanced refund options available to students, which will help avoid lengthy waits at New Garden Hall for those who receive refunds.

Bursavich told The Guilfordian that details about those options are forthcoming, but he indicated that students will be receiving debit cards in the mail from Higher One and further instructions from the college on how to use their services in the next few weeks.

In addition to going completely virtual with its billing, the College also plans on joining other schools such as Elon University in adding a 2.75 percent convenience fee to all payment of tuition, fees, room and board, and other charges associated with enrollment made with MasterCard, Discover or American Express.

The College will no longer accept Visa cards.

Jay Harper, bursar at Elon, told The Guilfordian that when the university implemented the credit card processing fees he expected some backlash.

“What we found was that students and families realized that the university was taking a huge hit from credit card companies,” said Harper, who noted that many Elon students pay huge chunks of their tuition using credit cards.

In order for the College to accept credit cards, it must pay a fee to companies to process the payments.

Guilford will save $150,000 in fees annually which could be passed down to faculty salaries and operating expenses.

“We believe these funds are better spent supporting our educational mission,” said Bursavich. “Thus, in order to continue accepting credit and debit card payments, the 2.75 percent convenience fee is necessary.”

Those like Terry Tarantelli-Louison, a parent sending three children to college including a daughter who graduated from Guilford, said that the College passing along fees to the student is a part of a much bigger issue.

“Charging students fees, which essentially passes along to their parents, is not a real issue,” said Louison. “The real issue is the absurd amount of money it takes to get a liberal arts education.”

While Elon University and Earlham College have a convenience fee already in place, both have stayed away from partnering with Higher One.

“We consider our students like family members here,” said Harper. “We rather keep our student’s information in-house so that there would not be a chance of a compromise which in turn could put our student’s information at risk. It was not something we were willing to do.”

Guilford administrators say that the decision to enhance the billing payments and refund processes was made with students in mind.

“We believe these changes will have a very positive impact on our students and their families,” said Bursavich.