SFS Clears Graduates for Takeoff

By Alice Waugh, Communications Officer, Student Financial Services

Thousands of students happily pocketed their diplomas earlier this month, though not without a lot of behind-the-scenes work in Student Financial Services (SFS) to get everyone cleared for takeoff.

Before students are allowed to graduate, they have to pay off any remaining balance on their student accounts. There were 869 undergraduate and graduate students who had declared themselves as degree candidates still owed money to MIT as of May 17. While alternative payment arrangements can sometimes be made at other times during a student’s career, “the policy is that they have to have a zero balance in order to get their degree,” explained Carlene Chisom-Freeman, director of student receivables in SFS.Thus begins the work by DUE to clear these degree holds...

SFS Student Accounts staff members contact each student who owes money, and the Registrar’s Office works with SFS to notify the academic departments about those students, so they get reminders and help from many areas of MIT at once. This year’s absolute deadline to pay was June 4, when the Corporation signed off on the final list of students who would receive diplomas, “and it went down to the wire,” said Mary Murray, manager of student accounts. In the end, every single undergraduate who had been on degree hold was cleared to participate in Commencement and just two graduate students were deferred to a future degree list.

Meanwhile, SFS Loans staff had to make sure that every student who borrowed a federal loan or MIT Technology Loan during their time at MIT received mandatory loan exit counseling. Eleanor Wolcott, manager of collections, conducted group counseling sessions for 626 students to explain their rights and responsibilities for repaying their loans. A handful of additional students got one-on-one exit counseling from their loan counselor in SFS and others were mailed documents that they must sign and return to SFS.

Now that Commencement is over, representatives in the Student Services Center, which handles some Registrar’s Office business as well as SFS transactions, have been processing requests for official transcripts for students to forward to graduate schools and employers. Student accounts staff are getting ready to mail a letter and brochure explaining MITPAY, the electronic billing and payment system, to all incoming students when the first fall bill is posted on July 10. The next academic year is just around the corner.