New Mexico university computer errors : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Computer error bills U. New Mexico students for service fees

Updated 12:00 PM ET February 3, 2000

By Mike Dano Daily Lobo U. New Mexico

(U-WIRE) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A computer glitch last month at the University of New Mexico Bursar's Office overcharged about 7,000 students by an average of $17 in service fees.

"Most of the students have been very understanding," UNM Bursar Leo Moya said. "They realize every now and then that there is an error."

Moya said Bursar's Office employees discovered the computer problem on Jan. 15, after the office sent students their account statements. About 6,000 of the statements listed a service charge for financial aid payments that had not been received, which was a mistake.

"We were getting a lot of calls from students," Moya said. "All the students that have financial aid were affected by this."

Moya said it took the Bursar's Office about six days to correct the mistake and erase the service charges. He said the computers failed to read the financial aid credits that had already been posted.

"We've corrected all those accounts," he said.

Once the 6,000 accounts were fixed, Moya said Bursar's Office employees realized that 1,000 more students had been affected by the computer error -- students who had been disenrolled. The office's computers had erroneously read that the students still owed tuition and fees, even though they had been disenrolled and did not owe anything.

Richard Lampasi, accounting manager in the Bursar's Office, said the computer failed to credit the cost of tuition and fees back to those students who had been disenrolled, which would have balanced out the accounts.

Moya said the office corrected those accounts as well, but that he didn't know exactly when they were all corrected. "Now everyone is back on track," he said.

The University normally disenrolls students on Jan. 7, but pushed the date back to Jan. 12 this semester in case UNM computers had trouble changing to the new year.

"The system didn't catch it," Moya said of the disenrollment date change. "The computer didn't read the dates correctly."

Moya said the change in dates caused the computer to misread financial aid and tuition charges and, as a result, charged students for service fees, which are incurred by failure to pay fees by a certain deadline.

Some students are owed a credit due to the computer glitch, Moya said.

The credit, which will be about $17 or $18, is owed to students who had excess financial aid and who had already claimed it. The mistaken service charges were applied to the accounts and taken from the extra money in the account. Students who have already picked up that money still are owed the service charge, Moya said.

"If there's a credit out there they can come and pick that up," he said.

Moya said students who are owed credit for the mistaken service charges will see it on their account statement in February, which will be mailed out around Feb. 11.

Moya said the computer error is still being investigated, and that it is unclear what caused it.

"This (error) was kind of an unusual one," Moya said.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 04, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ