Senator questions loan surcharges

Senator of Business Brian Mulvihill introduced a resolution at Wednesday’s SGA meeting requiring the Office of Student Accounts to provide an explaination for a surcharge imposed on recipients of Federal Family Education Loans every semester since last fall.

The surcharge, Mulvihill said in a later interview, appears as an unexplained outstanding balance on the accounts of all students who have received a Federal Family Education Loan. The surcharge is a processing fee imposed by Sallie May, the private lender that manages the loan.

The surcharge does not appear as one of the 15 semesterly fees the Office of Student Accounts can charge students, nor does it appear as an outstanding balance on a student’s account until several weeks into the semester.

The Office of Students Accounts never alerted the students about the existence of the surcharge, Mulvihill said.

Most students pay for it without question when they notice the outstanding balance.

The practice has been going on since the fall of 2002.

The processing fee is equivalent to a small percentage of the loan given to the student.

In the fall of his sophomore year, when Mulvihill discovered the surcharge, it was $62.50.

As the size of the loan increases each year of a student’s academic career, the surcharge increases as well.

Mulvihill, a junior, was charged $89.50 this year.

Since the Federal Family Education Loan is the only loan that the College offers, Mulvihill said, all students who have loans from the College are subject to this surcharge.

Students with an outstanding balance on their accounts cannot register for classes for the following semester. They also are barred from the Simple Online Couseware System (SOCS).

Mulvihill said he originally brought this issue to the Office of Student Accounts’ attention twice during the last academic year.

The Office of Student Accounts offered no explanation as to why students were not informed of the surcharge, according to Mulvihill.

SGA will vote on the resolution next week.

SGA also passed a resolution declaring its goal to make local phone calls free on all on-campus phone plans.

Currently local phone calls are subtracted from a student’s total monthly minutes. SGA would like those minutes to apply only to long-distance calls. The resolution was drafted by Senator-at-Large Chris Tuohy.

Vice President of Student Services Sara Potter suggested creating a forum on sexual assault and a support group for victims of sexual assault.

In response to a police report, Potter prepared a meeting between Senator-at-Large John Titus and Officer Ray Nesci.

The police report states only six sexual assaults have been reported on campus in the last three years. This statistic that suggests many students are afraid to report cases of sexual assault. Potter hopes a forum and support group will encourage victims of sexual assault to come forward.

During the meeting, President Christina Puglia announced that student directories had arrived the previous morning.

She asked other senators to help her get the directories to the offices of every residence hall by that night, Nov. 5.