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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Registration holds on student accounts

Registration+holds+on+student+accounts

Holding students accountable or penalizing them?

Financial holds are used at most universities as a way of ensuring that students pay unpaid bills. A hold means that many students are not able to register for courses for the next semester. Others are not able to get transcripts and some do not receive their diplomas until they pay their balances.

 While we can see the reasoning behind financial holds on student accounts, these holds cause an immeasurable amount of stress on students and their families. They also unfairly penalize the most financially fragile members of the university. 

On March 18, three weeks before the start of registration, students who had over a $2,000 balance on their tuition were emailed by the Bursar’s Office that they would have to pay their balance down to the $2,000 threshold in order to register for the fall 2021 semester. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, St. Joe’s raised the financial hold threshold from $500 to $2,000 in spring 2020. This was a huge help to students who had outstanding balances on their accounts, but with tuition starting at $47,740 a year ($23,870 a semester) for undergraduates, students who rely on loans and other sources of financial aid may struggle to make it to this threshold by the middle of each semester. Tuition is difficult to pay for most families during “normal” times, but with the higher unemployment rates due to the pandemic it has been even harder.

Financial holds that are not removed by registration time prevent students from choosing courses during their assigned pick time. Once the hold is removed, they are able to register, but the removal can take up to three business days depending on the payment method. This leaves students who are struggling financially with limited options for courses. 

All of us have had the experience of worrying about what time slot we’ll get, or if the classes we want will be available. Having to wait possibly days or weeks after the last registration time to register for classes just because of financial hardship is unfair and classist, especially for upperclassmen.

This process, albeit a way for universities to ensure they receive proper payments in advance, adds stress to students and families already struggling to afford the hefty price tag on college tuition, let alone in the midst of a pandemic. The possibility of not being able to register for courses or not getting into required courses takes away from students’ ability to focus on the semester at hand and is an additional, unneeded stressor. 

Through registration holds, colleges and universities continue the classist cycle of preventing upward mobilization in low-income communities. These holds give financially stable students a first pick at getting the classes they want and need. It also makes low-income students much less likely to return the following semester if they are unable to afford it. 

Approximately 6.6 million students can’t obtain their transcripts, according to Ithaka S+R. That means even if students who are unable to afford private tuition are planning on transferring to a community college, they aren’t allowed to transfer their credits or grades if there is a hold on their account. Students who are struggling financially are essentially punished for not having the same resources as other students. 

We ask the university to reconsider its financial registration hold system due to the marginalizing factors that come into play. As a university that prides itself on social justice and puts a heavy emphasis on changing the world around us, St. Joe’s should remove financial holds from students accounts that prevent them from registering for classes as it only reinforces the socioeconomic inequities in the U.S.

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