The University will cut down on its use of paper beginning this
fall. In an e-mail sent to all students late Wednesday night, the
University’s Office of Student Financial Operations announced
that beginning in June, billing statements will be sent to students
electronically via e-mail.

Jim Middlemas, University cashier and assistant manager of
Financial Operations, said the changes were put in place for
various reasons, including requests from parents after their
students began e-mailing them the bills.

“Basically, we want to get the bills out to you folks as
soon as possible and give you the possibility of picking it up at
your leisure. Let’s face it, the world is going electronic,
and being able to pull up the bill anywhere in the world is
amazing,” Middlemas said.

The University will send out both paper and electronic
notifications for the spring and summer terms, but will switch
solely to electronic billing in September.

Since December 2002, students have been able to pay bills
electronically through Wolverine Access. The new changes only
affect the actual billing statement.

“We generate a paper bill currently. Students, for one
reason or the other, tend to not keep them, lose them or misplace
them,” Middlemas said.

He added that the change should be relatively easy for students
to handle, because they only need to specify who receives the
statement.

“Basically the students don’t have to do anything,
except we will have the ability to let students sign up a guest to
receive an e-mail and receive access to the bill. They’re
going to have to name the individual and direct them to sign up for
it,” Middlemas said.

But students will not have to worry about a guest having access
to their Wolverine Access account. The billing statements will be
kept on a separate server, and guests will not have access to
anything except the statement.

Individuals whom the student chooses to access their statement
will not use a University-issued uniqname and will have to use a
separate system, and “The bills will be residing on a secure
server. Students can get the link through Wolverine Access,”
Middlemas said.

In addition to creating a more student-friendly system,
Middlemas added that the University will save money that would
otherwise be used to pay for postage, paper and printing costs.

“By eliminating postage, the University will save a great
deal of money which we will hopefully be able to put into other
services. We send out to the tune of … 42,000 bills,”
Middlemas said.

He said other University employees have estimated the price of
postage and printing for one statement to be about $1.25, meaning
the University will save about $52,500 by switching to electronic
bills.

Middlemas also said another reason for the change is to relieve
problems faced by many international students with regard to their
billing statements.

LSA sophomore Rupa Mehta, who is from Calgary, Canada, said she
faced late fees once after sending a paper billing statement home.
Mehta said it can take anywhere from a week and a half to two weeks
to mail letters home.

“I think it’s a great idea … just because
technology is advancing and it’s great to see the University
advance like that,” Mehta said.

LSA sophomore Upaasna Gupta uses the electronic payment service,
and she said the new e-mail notifications will help her remember
when her bill needs to be paid.

“I think it would be helpful because sometimes I
don’t even know my fees are due. If they do send out the
e-mail, it will make things easier,” Gupta said.

But other students, like LSA sophomore Ian Jacobson, said the
changes won’t affect them.

“It doesn’t matter either way to me,” said
Jacobson, who currently pays his bill by mail.

Although the University considered hiring an outside vendor to
install the system, Middlemas said the changes were made internally
in an effort to lower costs. Schools such as Eastern Michigan
University and the University of Minnesota have hired outside
companies, while Michigan State University chose to install the
system internally.

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