College student billed for classes she never took

March 27, 2013 7:03:36 PM PDT
If you have a son or daughter in college -- or you're a student yourself -- you know how easy it is to accumulate thousands of dollars in debt.

Now imagine being asked to pay for a semester you never attended. That's what happened to one young woman who called 7 On Your Side for help.

Oakland resident Nina Young has a condition that impairs her vision. Two detached retinas were severely limiting her vision so doctors suggested she have surgery.

She received a doctor's note requesting that her school give her a leave of absence. Patten University in Oakland approved her leave. She was told she could return later to complete her degree in pastoral studies.

Young's surgery was successful and her eyesight improved dramatically. "It was actually the summer time and when I saw the sun outside I would cry every morning until I got used to it," she said.

But that joy turned to frustration when the school refused to let her re-enroll until she paid an outstanding balance for the time she missed from school.

"They had new management and they didn't document my leave correctly so I had a balance of $3,500. I was told that I took financial aid and dropped out of school," Young said.

She pleaded her case to the business office, but she says the school wouldn't budge. Patten even refused to release her transcripts, she said, until she paid the balance.

"I'm in a situation where I wasn't working. I was on disability. My cash was running out," she said. So the aspiring minister contacted 7 On Your Side and kept the faith that someone would help her.

Patten President Terry Rawls said by phone: "There just was an error in our business office which was compounded by a lack of communication. We didn't get information to her in a timely manner. She's the only one where this happened. It's unfortunate it was her."

Patten agreed to reverse Young's tuition. "It was a blessing that I'm back in school and I'm able to finish up," said Young, who has just been offered a new job as a mortgage underwriter. She expects her financial situation to greatly improve.


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