VALHALLA, N.Y. – Students are finding out not only is there no such thing as a free lunch, there’s no free education, either.
New York’s Westchester Community College is turning to the courts with far greater frequency to collect money owed by former students, the Journal News reports.
Since the beginning of 2014, the college has filed 631 lawsuits against students over unpaid tuition.
So far this year, the Valhalla-based WCC has won $116,816 in judgments against 76 former students, according to the paper.
The Daily Voice notes, all told, WCC is owed $779,000.
Rockland Community College which uses debt collectors to recover unpaid student tuition. The company employs letters followed by phone calls.
RCC, meanwhile, has past due notices totaling $3,395,000.
“A lot of times our classes get dropped because we don’t know how we’re going to pay for school because the financial aid doesn’t go through when it should,” Westchester student Rashida Brown says.
“And then we have to come up with $800, $900 in two days to pay for class because our financial aid didn’t finish going through. … Classes get dropped.”
The 631 lawsuits WCC filed in 2014 reflect a huge increase in legal action; last year the college filed 35 lawsuits and it filed 347 in 2012, according to legal records on the Westchester County Clerk’s website, the paper reports.
The college credits new computer software that allows administrators to more effectively track tuition payments.
“We have to have a balance between collecting debts and giving students the benefit of the doubt, but at a certain point things will go into collections,” Patrick Hennessey, a WCC spokesman, says.
“We try to be flexible. We instituted a payment plan to give them more time. We encourage them to work with us and to work with the collection agency.”