Paying bills online is nothing new for 20-somethings, but the University of North Carolina’s elimination of traditional snail mail in sending out tuition bills means students will have to grant bill-pay account access to their financial handlers: mom and dad.
The 28,000-student Chapel Hill, N.C., campus announced recently that it would do away with paper bills sent through the mail and switch exclusively to eBills sent to students’ university-issued eMail accounts beginning in July. The switch could save the university $100,000 annually, according to the announcement.
eBilling is an option available at many colleges, but few institutions have gone to an entirely electronic billing system, higher-education experts said.
Ian Lee, UNC’s student body secretary, said college students are accustomed to receiving monthly billing statements in their eMail in-boxes and paying for their cell phones, for example, by entering checking account information or credit card numbers on a company’s web site.
But using the university’s new payment system, Lee said, will give students “a new layer of responsibility” in paying the school on time, because sending eBills directly to parents would violate North Carolina’s student privacy guidelines, dictated by the Family Education and Rights Privacy Act (FERPA).