Sunday, May 27

BruinPay Plan provides financial flexibility

Students having a difficult time paying their student fees each quarter can now join in a payment plan that allows them to pay their fees in three monthly payments within each quarter.

In light of the recent fee hikes and the poor economy, UCLA’s Corporate Financial Services strove to provide students with more financial flexibility by teaming up with an outside vendor to create the BruinPay Plan, also known as BPP.

The program was designed to allow students to pay their student fees in smaller increments and thus reduce the financial strain of having to pay one large lump sum at the beginning of each quarter. All quarter-system students can access the BPP through their URSA accounts.

Students at the UCLA School of Law or David Geffen School of Medicine, both of which are on the semester system, will be included in the program the following spring, said Jeff Brigman, manager of student accounts.

The Corporate Financial Services office received numerous letters and e-mails from students asking for a way to alleviate their tight budgets, which became even tighter as a result of the feeble economy and the recent increase in student fees.

The majority of demands came from students who were not receiving any financial aid and from students whose financial aid had been reduced, according to Susan Abeles, associate vice chancellor.

Colleen Chen, a third-year business economics student, had mixed reactions when she first heard of the BruinPay Plan.

“It’s a good start for the UC system to put these types of payment options and financial plans,” she said.

“It shows that they have consideration for students that want to continue their education, but I hope that they come (up) with better ways to help students pay for school.”

Chen said she still does not see the new payment plan as a complete solution for students with financial needs.

“This doesn’t change the fact that the tuition is still very expensive and you’re still paying the same fee, even though it’s less of a burden,” she said.

Although the Corporate Financial Services office planned and initiated the BruinPay Plan in a span of two years, UCLA is one of the last UC campuses to implement a deferred payment plan.

“UCLA always considered credit cards as a form of deferred payment, but it doesn’t cover it anymore,” Brigman said.

Abeles said UCLA had a similar program available to students 10 years ago, but it ended because of lack of necessity.

“By (re)implementing this plan, we are answering what students are asking for,” she said.

Christopher Santos, external vice president of the Undergraduate Students Association Council, said the implementation of the BruinPay Plan was a good sign that student initiative could make a direct impact on the school administration.

“This (plan) looks like it came out of nowhere, but this has been coming up for some time,” he said. “It took a lot of initiative, in part of student organizations and community officers. This was by no means a quick decision.”

Santos said he encourages students to play a more active role in the campus and community.

“(The implementation of the BruinPay Plan) shows that students are beginning to be heard, and solutions are being implemented.

At the same time, we shouldn’t forget that we’re stakeholders of the university,” he said. “We need to start talking about how to reduce costs and make the university more efficient for students.”

USAC is already planning to continue challenging the recent fee hikes, Santos said.

“We’re going to keep making sure that (the administration) understands this is a solution, and not the whole solution,” he said.

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