Office seeks to keep students enrolled at WKU


The Enrollment Management office at WKU is taking more aggressive steps to keep students on campus, including potentially giving desperate students one-time payments to assist in paying off debt.

Joelle Davis Carter, assistant vice president for Retention and Student Services, said the Enrollment Management office is working closely with the Student Financial Assistance Office and Office of the Bursar to ensure the university doesn’t drop students as the Oct. 23 non-payment date nears.

“But the overall message we want to send to students is, ‘Don’t leave until we’ve exhausted every possible opportunity here,’” Carter said.

Carter said there are numerous ways their office can help students, including loan and scholarship assistance, developing a financial plan to pay off the fees, and closely examining student charges.

She said in “extreme cases” the office provides some students with one-time payments to help ease their payments.

“It’s not like we have a big pot of money to pull from,” she said. “That’s not what this is. But there are some limited funds that the most extreme and dire situations can use.”

Carter said the office will have follow-up meetings to make sure those students aren’t in the same situation again.

There are a little more than 350 students on the path to being dropped after the initial Oct. 9 drop date, a growing number than in previous semesters.

Since putting out notices regarding the final non-payment drop date, Carter and people in her office have met with and reinstated 40 students within the last week. She said she expects to see more students in the upcoming week as the drop date draws closer.

“It’s not a huge percentage of students, but it’s still one, from this seat, that we weren’t comfortable with,” she said of students in danger of being dropped.

Brian Meredith, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, said his office is trying to make sure they can help as many students as possible.

“We’ve had more success stories than not, if students will just come see us,” Meredith said. “We’re not trying to solve students’ problems, but help them work through tuition issues. We want to make sure students are well-versed in the hiccups that can come along the way.”

Meredith said struggling to pay tuition by the non-payment date is an “across the board” problem, but most are those on partial or no scholarship.

“I hope the new scholarship initiatives will help address a majority of these financial concerns,” he said of programs the university is creating to help more students get scholarships.

Bursar Belinda Higginbotham said what Enrollment Management is doing is similar to the payment plans currently available to students.

“We have these payment plans already available for students to develop during the summer before classes,” she said. “Those help troubleshoot some of the issues Enrollment has been working with.”

Carter said she hopes the spread of information about these resources will help students in avoiding tuition issues, including a potential resolution from Student Government Association.

Carter said she hopes to work further with Executive Vice President Keyana Boka and SGA to address this issue in the future.