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M Center errors lead to threats of eviction, student frustrations

The M Center is located in Carnegie Hall, and handles student accounts. (Marisa Tangeman)
The M Center is located in Carnegie Hall, and handles student accounts. (Marisa Tangeman)

A recent spate of Mills students being dropped from classes, overcharged and threatened with eviction from on-campus housing has left many students confused and anxious about the M Center’s billing and notification policies.

The M Center, located in Carnegie Hall, deals with registration, financial aid, student loan counseling, student accounts and student billing. It also handles notifying students and families of fines, fees and changes to their accounts.

Senior Kiley Cloud is just one student who has recently struggled with sudden threats of eviction from on-campus housing.

“All of this basically started a few weeks ago when I just randomly get an email that says I owe $200 in late fees,” Cloud said.  “I was not informed about this late fee, at all beforehand, I did not know there was a deadline; there was no deadline listed on the academic calendar, so it was just kind of a shock.”

Cloud’s mother had sent a check to the M Center weeks before, which was never cashed, resulting in the late fee. Nevertheless, the email, sent minutes before the M Center closed on Feb. 6, stated that Cloud had until the evening of Feb. 7 to resolve the fine, or they would be locked out of the residence halls, their meal plan voided and their classes dropped.

When they got to the M Center, Cloud was told the problem was resolved and they wouldn’t be withdrawn.

“It frustrated me that the person [at the desk] was so dismissive of my problem when that was my entire future that was on the line,” Cloud said. “[She] says they purposefully send emails out the day before to ensure maximum response and in almost all cases they know ahead of time if someone is in danger of being withdrawn.”

Jeff Hardie, assistant vice president for Student Financial Services, refutes this, saying that it is M Center policy to send notifications 30 days ahead of a deadline, and that all deadlines are available online. However, undergraduate Danni Anderson had a similar problem to Cloud at the beginning of the fall semester, and almost wasn’t able to move into campus housing, despite having paid the entire bill.

“I kept checking the portal to make sure the funds had been submitted, and it wasn’t showing up on the Portal, so I called the M Center, talked to someone on the phone who said they found my payment, it would be submitted in a couple of days, and if it wasn’t, I should call back,” Anderson said.

Anderson called the M Center multiple times prior to the beginning of the semester and was assured that the payment was on record and would be applied to the account shortly. But on move-in day, Anderson couldn’t get into their dorm because their account wasn’t cleared.

“They tell me, based on the amount that’s on my account balance, I didn’t pay enough through the payment plan,” Anderson said.

Three separate people had told Anderson that their payments were in order, but on move in day, they were told that there was no record of their tuition payments. Hardie stated that it is M Center policy to process payments immediately when received, and that it should take no more than two business days for payments to appear as cashed or deducted, but Anderson estimated that their check had been with the M Center for about 3 weeks and hadn’t been cashed.

Heather Peters, a book art grad student, was double-charged by the M Center during her first semester.

“I set up monthly payments, and I think it was my second payment. The first one went through, the second one went through twice. Because my mom was helping me out at the time, she immediately called me,” Peters said.

She went over and they asked her to fill out some paperwork. Peters said it took nearly a month to receive a refund. She also noted that her mother continued to be charged for her tuition, even after she had requested that payments should be transferred to her own card. Hardie indicated that per-credit tuition charges might appear on a bill multiple times, but that students who believe they have been charged twice should contact Student Accounts.

Many Mills students noted that they have had struggles with the M Center throughout their time at Mills, and that these discrepancies have been a major source of stress and frustration during their college experience. The M Center has not made a public statement about these errors, but Mills students have continued to receive incorrect charges to their accounts and billing notifications out of alignment with stated M Center policies.