Economic Downturn work team helps students make ends meet

Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — A new initiative started this spring at MU aims to help students struggling to make ends meet during the recession.

The Economic Downturn work team includes directors and managers of the registrar, admissions and financial aid offices. The cashiers office works closely with the financial aid office and families to provide alternative payment plans.

“We are able to work with students and families creatively to stretch out their payments,” said Paul Toler, chairman of Economic Downturn and director of Business Services.

Despite the troubled economy, the amount of student tuition and other charges collected is phenomenal, Toler said.

“We are blessed with very responsible students and families,” he added.

With the recession, the work team gained a more systematic focus to make sure that students know what opportunities the university provides through financial aid or campus employment, Toler said.

He hopes MU will consider establishing an emergency fund to help students with extraordinary circumstances.

“We can probably help a student pay rent one month,” Toler said.

As well as providing additional educational material at Summer Welcome, the Economic Downturn work team will continue encouraging students to manage their accounts and student charge responsibly.

The work team also promotes awareness among academic advisers about financial implications that might occur when a student decides to add or drop a class.

For more information, call the cashier accounts receivable line at 882-3097.

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