Returning students of ETSU may have noticed a major difference in confirming their enrollment this semester compared to past semesters.

Until this fall, many students who were waiting on financial aid to come in were able to sign a “promise to pay,” which was essentially an agreement between the student and the university that the student would pay their tuition bill after their financial aid came in. This semester, that was no longer an option.

With the promise to pay no longer an option, students had three options to confirm their enrollment: pay the tuition bill in full, enroll in a payment plan, or confirm with financial aid you have enough approved financial aid to pay the bill in full.

Catherine Morgan, Director of Financial Aid at ETSU, believes not allowing students the option of promise to pay was a move the university made to benefit students.

“We started to evaluate students that used the promise to pay, and we found that in many instances the students were unable to meet the obligations and never got their financial aid and didn’t finish the FAFSA process. At the end of the semester, it put them in a position where they couldn’t enroll for the next term,” Morgan said.

“It helped them enroll for the one semester, but it put up a barrier for them to continue…In some cases it set them back from being able to achieve their degree,” she said.

It turns out, not allowing students the option of promise to pay didn’t result in more students being purged from their classes; it actually resulted in fewer students getting purged.

“I think with the help of everyone at the institution, we were able to get the word out to students that there wasn’t going to be the promise to pay, to where we had fewer students get dropped. I think it was a win overall,” Morgan said.

The promise to pay not being an option this semester wasn’t just a semester experiment; it will no longer be an option for ETSU students moving forward.