Smith: Policy overhaul overdue

Smith argues that recent changes to financial aid policies will benefit students while also holding them responsible.

Jessica Smith

Jessica SmithAt the end of last month, Temple released the official details about its changes in handling financial aid and course selection that go into effect immediately with the Summer 2013 registration period. Washout is an occurrence of the past and students are now eligible for undergraduate course waitlists.

Washout – or registration cancellation – dropped students from any enrolled classes if they didn’t pay the minimum requirement to the university. This method essentially weeded out students who didn’t plan on attending the university. After the washout date, students would have to scramble to make payments and re-register for courses.

Now, according to the statement issued by the Office of the University Registrar, a “student remains financially obligated for the course unless he or she drops the course by the prescribed deadlines for dropping and adding courses…Students who do not drop classes by the end of the official drop/add period remain financially obligated for the amount due.”

In addition, students must accept Temple’s Financial Responsibility Agreement, which lists all the terms and conditions before they can register for courses. Instructors are also encouraged to issue letter grades for students registered on the class roster, even if they don’t attend.

Temple has taken its generosity one step further with the creation of undergraduate course waitlists. Previously, if classes were closed, students would have to continually check back and cross their fingers that a spot would open up.

Now, through Self-Service Banner, students can opt to be waitlisted for a closed class. Waitlisting is only used for completely closed courses – it can’t be used for specific sections within a course. If there’s an opening, an email notification is sent and a spot is saved for 72 hours until the student confirms the spot or removes him or herself from the waitlist.

Overall, I say everyone at the Office of the University Registrar deserves a high-five.

At first glance, the new system as outlined in the registrar’s statement seems harsh with its threats of failing grades and financial responsibility. But it’s really a godsend for students struggling to make ends meet.

The washout date was primarily used to get rid of the students with no serious plans of attending the university, but it punished those who honestly couldn’t pay on time. Now they’re given more breathing room and don’t have to worry about being kicked out of their required courses.

And is anyone honestly surprised they have to pay for college? We’re not children anymore. The new system expects that we’re adult enough to know what we want. The act of registration creates a bill. If you don’t plan on paying it or taking the courses, don’t register and leave room for those that will. It’s as simple as that.

This may pose a problem for those few people who want to explore their options for higher-learning institutions. Temple no longer makes assumptions or does the work for them. Their suffering is easily avoidable, however, due to the expected email reminders about the drop period for registered students. This gives students plenty of opportunities to set aside a few seconds to drop a course and move onto other tasks.

Additionally, there seems to be no complaint whatsoever about undergraduate course waitlists. Finally there’s an end to the frantic and constant check-backs to courses and the everlasting hope that at least one student will drop and you’ll be lucky enough to snag the open seat.

Waitlists have brought much-needed laziness back to course enrollment. With proper planning, it’s much easier to get on a waitlist and hope for an email than to get online every five minutes, perpetually oblivious to the registration activity. It also gives the school insight about the most popular classes, so it can assess the need to open additional sections instead of requiring student petitions to argue for them.

This is the dawn of the new era of Temple registration that favors the penny pinchers and early enrollers and will probably spawn the creation of scores of “Disasters: Geology vs. Hollywood” sections stretching as far as the eye can see.

Change is good.

Jessica Smith can be reached at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.