The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Fighting for fees

Students battle with SMU for tuition refund after withdrawal

Withdrawing from school is a reality that most students never have to face, but for sophomore, pre-business major Caroline Neal this has become her reality. On Oct. 2, Neal’s father, John, died from bone marrow cancer forcing her to withdraw from school to manage the family business.

Due to the urgency of Neal’s withdrawal, after the 25th day of classes, SMU will not grant her a refund for the tuition she had paid.

“Caroline really had no other choice than to withdraw,” said her older brother Scott Neal, a junior Finance and Psychology major. “Our mom is not capable of handling monetary issues, so [Caroline] needs to be in Austin to be able to help.”

Between handling the family business in Austin and trying to keep her enrollment appointments in Dallas only to discover that they had been cancelled, her level of frustration has increased. “They’re just not dealing with me. It’s extremely irresponsible on SMU’s part,” Neal explains. “I just want to be refunded for the days that I’m not in school. SMU will get their money since I am still registering for classes this coming spring.”

Michael Novak, executive director of Enrollment Services and Financial Aid says that the university has a prescribed policy for refunding students’ that withdraw. Novak says a formula has been developed to determine how much students should be refunded based on if the student’s family paid in full, if the student received financial aid from outside SMU or if the student received aid from SMU. In Neal’s case, the time of her withdrawal and the fact that she received financial aid meant that she would not receive a refund.

In addition to losing her classes, Caroline has been unable to talk with any one in the enrollment offices. Recently she discovered that because her situation is not ‘special enough,’ not only will she not receive a refund but she will owe SMU an additional $200 because she was an SMU Mustang Scholarship recipient.

“There is a specific sheet with steps and procedures to be strictly followed…but in this case it was just a timing issue, where some steps were completed before the others.” June Hagler, associate dean of Enrollment Services said.

Initially the Neal family overpaid $300 to SMU, SMU then awarded them the extra money. However, after the paperwork was completed, the formula revealed that the Neal family owed money.

“It was really just a mistake on the side of the department,” Hagler said. “It could have happened to any student and steps have been taken to have it corrected. Everyone makes mistakes, even students.”

In regards to Neal’s extenuating circumstances, Steve Boykin, manager of enrollment says the only viable reason for withdrawing is if a student becomes ill and has to leave the university. Every other case is treated on an individual basis.

Although one situation is in the process of being corrected, Neal still has a long line of appointments to make and a challenging situation to cope with.

Novak says Caroline can make a case of suffering from emotional trauma, but suggest that she meet with a health center counselor before discussing any other type of refund, since she is still dealing with the loss of a parent and not a personal illness.

As SMU continues to rectify the matter, Neal says she has been dealing with this for too long. “It is really a lack of respect for the situation and the person…it’s been extremely hard to deal with,” Neal said.

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