Unpaid balances continue to sting Hornets


Fullerton College Financial Aid Office is a resource for students who need help with FAFSA. Students accounts are being put on hold because of unpaid balances. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Damonya Jones, Staff Writer

Fullerton College students have been struggling to pay off unpaid balances due to the high cost of tuition and fees. Many students are stressing about coming up with the funds to further their education as 5,367 students have received UB, unpaid balance, holds on their records this semester alone, said Lisa McPheron, Director of Campus Communications, at Fullerton College.

A UB is a hold that is placed on a student’s myGateway account if they owe more than $100 in fees. Students with the UB hold aren’t going to be dropped for spring 2023 classes, but they will be prevented from adding or dropping current classes. They will also be prevented from registering for future classes. For students who owe less than $100, the district will not place this hold, and they may move forward with adding and dropping classes as usual.

According to McPheron, after a balance is paid, it may take up to 24 hours for a hold to be removed. These holds include outstanding registration fees owed, unpaid loans, equipment not returned, equipment breakages, unpaid fines or materials owed to the library, etc. Any item withheld shall be released when the student clears the campus obligation.

“It’s stressful to have the $4000 I owe on the back of my mind while I’m trying to work and do well in school,” said Julianne Le, an English major and former Hornet news editor at Fullerton College. “Helping my family pay bills and trying to figure out how to deal with my fees on my own has been tough, but there’s definitely a few adults at Fullerton that have been so helpful.”

This year, the college is being very strict on payments this semester due to the high amount of fees students are withholding on their accounts without proper funding.

“Placing unpaid balance holds was a common practice before the pandemic and is part of California Education Code and NOCCCD board policy,” said McPheron. “During the pandemic, Fullerton College received federal CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) and like many other colleges, covered unpaid student fees and issued direct grants to students with those federal funds. However, those funds are sunsetting, and the college will need to return to past practices.”

Deandra Rhaburn, a Fullerton College student, also expressed her feelings on behalf of her unpaid balances. “I’m frustrated because I owe $300 to the school. I took care of all my balances at the beginning of the school year, and I’m confused why admissions and records still continues to say I still have a remaining balance on my account.”

In addition to tuition, unpaid bills may include fees, parking fines, library fines, and other costs that students are unaware they owe. In many cases, late charges are added, significantly increasing the original amount.

“We understand that it may be jarring for students to see an unpaid balance hold, especially any student who began college during the pandemic. There are financial aid options available, and we encourage all students to reach out to our team in Financial Aid if they need assistance applying for the FAFSA,” said McPheron.