Editorials

Editorial: Beyond forgiveness

By
Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The current state of the economy is taking a toll on all levels of the University — the endowment has already shrunk from $2.8 billion to $2 billion, employees are being laid off and, most pervasively, students and their families are having trouble paying tuition. University administrators have recently shown that they are not ignorant of this problem and will allow students to pre-register for classes even if they have outstanding tuition balances in excess of $1,000.

This move is a continued suspension of the University’s previous policy, which did not allow such students to pre-register for the next semester. According to Herald coverage, about 360 students benefited from this policy. The administration should be lauded for keeping this policy in touch with the needs of students and their families, and we hope that the University will continue to be lenient with tuition payments until the economy improves.

However, we think that Brown could go further in its forgiveness of penalties for unpaid balances. For example, the Registrar’s Office is still not allowed to issue an official transcript for students who have an unpaid balance of more than $100. This is obviously problematic for students who are currently applying to jobs, internships, summer programs and grad schools. In fact, this policy could ultimately prove counterproductive — if students cannot access official transcripts, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to applying for summer jobs, fellowships and other sources of funding which could possibly help them pay down their tuition balances.

There are several other courses of action that the University could take to assist students in paying down their balances. The Office of Financial Aid has already offered to assist families, regardless of aid status, by providing advice on financing options and federal loans. While this is a helpful gesture, if the University is really concerned about students paying off their debts, they should be expanding work-study programs. They should also look to provide opportunities for students to stay in Providence during the summer, when they can work for the University. Though forgiveness programs, such as the one currently in place regarding pre-registration, are helpful and appreciated, administrators should look further ahead and consider how they can ultimately help students meet their obligations.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.