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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UAccess glitch hits 200 students

Tuition has steadily increased over the years, but for several students the price tag swelled dramatically overnight. Approximately 200 in-state students were temporarily reclassified as non-residents this summer because of a synchronization error with the UAccess system.

The difference meant an increase of nearly $8,000 in tuition costs. In order to confirm their residency status, students are required to complete a domicile affidavit form as well as paperwork to comply with Proposition 300.

Proposition 300, which was approved by Arizona voters in 2006 , bars those who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents from receiving in-state tuition or financial aid subsidized by the state, though students who are not legal residents may still attend the university.

John Nametz, director of Student Financial Aid, did not elaborate as to whether this particular issue with UAccess directly impacted student’s financial aid, but said residency does impact financial aid.

“When there is a mismatch, students are often most concerned about this issue,” Nametz said in an email. “You could say financial aid is often the catalyst that prompts people to clear up the problems.”

Arizona requires a person to live in the state for at least one full year in order to be eligible for in-state tuition. Out-of-state undergraduate students pay about $12,700 for 12 or more units, while their in-state counterparts pay about $4,600 for seven or more units.

Both graduate and undergraduate students were affected by the error, which placed the students’ residency status in limbo until their lawful presence could be verified.

The UAccess system, which is about a year old, originally encountered other problems and underwent an overhaul last spring. Other issues with UAccess have been with record transfers, which caused students to have problems registering and paying for class.

Nametz said he didn’t have specific information related to the issues with UAccess over the summer.

“Residency status does not delay financial aid awards,” Nametz said. “If an award was based on residency status and the student is reclassified as a non-resident, the aid gets corrected to the amount the student would have received at the time the award was offered.”

He said the opposite is true for a non-resident whose status changes to resident, in which case a student may perceive a delay in financial aid.

“When the residency status is made correct (whether by student or UA), the billing would reflect lesser tuition and then create a cash ‘refund’ to the student,” Nametz said.

He said the fall 2011 semester is going far better than past years.

“Despite seeing double-digit increases in our business during each of the last three years, I attribute a lot of this success to the new Peoplesoft financial aid system, UAccess (student view), and all the support we have had from our own UA technical support teams,” Nametz said. “From my perspective, UAccess is a smashing success.”

He said he’s spent a lot of time in the lobby of the Administration building the last 10 days and has received input from students.

“We will make even more changes in student views, some of which I hope we are able to bring out for Spring 2012,” Nametz added in the email.

Blake Forbes, a communication senior, family studies and human development from Orange, Calif. said he runs into issues with UAccess when using certain web browsers, such as Safari. He said the system will not let him log in or crashes when he is able to log in.

Sam Albert, a chemistry freshman from Akron, Ohio said he has not had any problems with UAccess.

“We had a similar program at my old school called ProgressBook,” Albert said.

Some university officials say there should never have been an issue.

“The program should be smarter than that,” said Cori Cashen, an assistant registrar.

The error showed up on an internal audit report in June. The registrar’s office spent the next couple of weeks resolving the issue. The issue was described as an isolated incident by Cashen, who also said she was confident a similar debacle would not occur again as a result of the efforts by the Office of the Registrar.

Cashen said there were only a handful of complaints from students. An official from the Bursar’s Office said the system seems to be streamlined now and working smoothly.

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