One-stop billing nears

Jessica Sasseen

Mom and Dad won’t have to send cash for books anymore.

They can just foot the bill via Topnet.

A “one-stop” student accounting service is in the works which will consolidate several university payments under one bill.

Under this system, students will eventually be able to charge textbooks, parking passes and health services to an account on Topnet. Then students will have the option to pay that total by credit card or have it added to their university bill. University officials hope the new services are completely in effect by fall 2004.

“The goal is for anytime you incur a charge on campus it would appear in one place,” Auxiliary Services Director Rob Chrisler said. “If you can access a computer you can see all your charges in one place. It’s all detailed and you can see payments that have been made, and if you so choose, you can have financial aide roll over to pay those bills.”

The bookstore, ID Center and Dining Services will be the first groups to test the new option.

Each department is updating their Web sites to accommodate the changes.

Starting as early as tomorrow, purchases made by OAR students at the bookstore can be credited to their Topnet account.

During the summer, returning students will have the same option.

In order to use the services, students must make a minimum $100 purchase at the bookstore.

For this year however, all purchases must be completed by Aug. 1 in order for the purchases to be added to the university bill.

In the future, Chrisler hopes there won’t be a deadline and students can make purchases year round.

Chrisler said the new feature will allow students to order or reserve books at the bookstore before Aug. 1 without paying for them until the books are picked up in the fall.

The idea was not unique to Western, Chrisler said, and has been in the planning stages for a while.

“This is something that has been talked about for the two years that I’ve been here in general terms,” he said. “I put it into a formal plan and it was adopted by Dr. Tice.”

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and Campus Services said he hopes the bookstore charges go as smoothly as possible.

“We’re still working in that direction but there is a lot that has to be done,” Tice said. “We want to make sure we do that in a way that it does not cause problems.”

Chrisler said the first round of changes will be a learning experience.

“There will be bugs,” Chrisler said. “We’ll screw up, I know we will. This is just a test run.”

Some students at a recent Student Government Association meeting expressed concern over whether the the new system would affect students’ residual checks.

Chrisler said students will be given an option to either continue receiving their checks or have that money pay for other services like books and parking permits listed on their bill. Students who chose the latter option would receive a residual check from the university after those charges were deducted.

“It will make it a lot easier for students,” SGA President Jamie Sears said, “And easier is better, especially if it’s online.”

Sears said she called her mom after SGA passed the resolution to get a parent’s perspective. Sears said her mom said having more charges consolidated to Topnet “would be 1,000 times easier for her.”

Reach Jessica Sasseen at [email protected]