System upsets tuition bills

Mike Wereschagin

When Kathy Lund, a sociology and criminology junior, opened her tuition statement last week, she found a tuition bill several hundred dollars higher than it should have been.
In addition to $300 of last semester’s tuition Lund had never been billed for, she was charged $166 under the cryptic designation “Subtotal 001.” Student Accounts Receivable also had three addresses listed for Lund, one of which she did not recognize.
The cause of Lund’s problems is the latest in a barrage of bugs emerging from the PeopleSoft system that has infected the University’s billing process, said Nancy Sinsabaugh, director of the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.
Sinsabaugh encourages students to double-check their tuition statements to avoid being overcharged. If a student finds a discrepancy, he or she should resolve it at the Student Accounts Receivable office in Fraser Hall as soon as possible, she added.
“It is imperative that students let us know of any problems,” Sinsabaugh said. “Our purpose is to help students, and we are absolutely committed to that.”
Since its implementation last fall, bugs in the system have delayed financial-aid disbursements and, most recently, made it difficult for students to access the University server on the first day of spring semester.
Last month, Cleveland State University became the first university to threaten PeopleSoft with a lawsuit. Since 1995, they have spent $11 million on a system originally estimated at $4.2 million.
But Laura King, PeopleSoft’s higher-education marketing director, said other universities do not follow Cleveland’s pattern.
“Cleveland State is not indicative of the success of this company,” she said. “PeopleSoft is a very solid company.”
The University has seen its share of system-cost overruns as well. First estimated at $42 million, the total cost is now expected to be closer to $60 million.
King attributed PeopleSoft’s problems and the University’s cost overruns to “regular adjustments.”
“There is nothing inherent in the system that could cause those problems,” King said.
Lund disagrees.
“(The system) has had problems from the start,” she said. “Students can’t go by their statement. What worries me is that no one knows about this. A lot of students could be affected.”
Sinsabaugh said she is putting together an e-mail to inform students of possible problems and to encourage them to double-check their statements.
In addition to the problems several institutions have had with PeopleSoft, the company is being sued by some of its shareholders. The suit alleges the company has inflated its stock value for the past two years.

Mike Wereschagin welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3226.