A December billing error left some GW students wondering how many times a semester they were expected to pay for housing.
Bob Kershner, director of student accounts, said a “computer quirk” sparked by a Community Living and Learning Center entry error caused the office’s Banner computer system to process spring charges as overdue fall payments. Charges from the spring are generally billed at the end of the semester.
“It appeared that students were charged twice, but in fact no one was double charged,” he said. “It did create a lot of phone calls. We just had to explain the problem to some people.”
The official spring invoice is post-dated so the computer charges students at the end of the semester. Other payments, such as Colonial Cash, are due at the beginning of each semester.
CLLC indicated that spring housing fees fell into the latter category when the office entered spring housing fees into the Banner system last month. The office was supposed to specify to the computer system that the charges applied to spring semester.
CLLC director Seth Weinshel called the mistake an “isolated incident.”
“It was a basic data entry error,” he said. “The charges were put in with the 2004 date – the year is what caused the issue.”
The billing error was upsetting for many students, especially those already struggling to keep up with the cost of attending GW. Senior Caitlin Harvey, who took out loans for spring semester, received a bill for $4,900 worth of housing fees that she thought she had already paid.
“I started crying,” she said. “It’s hard enough for everyone who goes here to pay for each semester. It was really frustrating.”
Harvey added that she realized that there was an error when she checked her account online.
Freshman Seth Weinstein said he was taken aback when he saw the bill.
“I nearly flipped out. I couldn’t understand how I owed GW any more money,” he said. “When I saw that I owed an additional 5,500 dollars, I called them. The woman on the phone apologized and said that she had received a ton of calls from angry parents.”
Kershner said his office is in the process of determining whether any students overpaid because of the error; they have yet to find anyone who did.
“Ideally we should not have had spring housing go on that bill,” Kershner said. “We’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again because it made our lives challenging over here.”
This article appeared in the January 31, 2005 issue of the Hatchet.