Late vouchers vex students

Some students at the university have yet to receive their book vouchers because of changes made at the start of the year to the voucher computer system.

“I felt angry because I wasn’t able to do the homework that was due, and I wasn’t able to keep up in my classes,” said Demecia Purdue, 19, a freshman education student from Belle Glade. “I felt as though I was being put behind in my classes.”

Purdue had to ask her teachers if they could extend the due date for her homework because she had not promptly received the money for her books. But her teachers would not allow her to turn in her work late.

In order to process a book voucher, the cashier’s office has to manually input into the system students’ social security numbers and amounts students request for books.

Approximately 1,992 students were approved for book vouchers this spring.

“Three years ago students had to stand in a line to fill out their applications for book vouchers,” said D’Andrea Cotton, associate director of student financial services.

The university uses Enterprise Information Technology systems to process its book vouchers.

In 2006, an upgrade was made to the EIT system that allowed students to fill out applications online.

A delay in the technology system was caused by an upgrade for the spring that was installed at the start of 2007.

The upgrade is used to automatically compile all of the students’ information in to the computer after they complete the online applications.

This upgraded system is supposed to eliminate re-keying a student’s information after the student has been approved. However, there are still some glitches in the system.

The cashier’s office is still working to eliminate manually keying student’s personal information.

“Usually the staff would be able to begin putting the information into the system during the winter break,” Cotton said.

“But because the systems were down we were not able to do so,” she continued.

Students began applying for spring semester book vouchers Dec. 18.

Because of the system’s failure, the cashier’s office was not able to enter students’ information into the system until Jan. 4. Since she had no money to buy books, Savanna Jones, 19, had to share books and borrow books from different friends in order to get her assignments done.

“I felt mad because I wanted to buy my books,” said the freshman pharmacy candidate from Gainesville. “I couldn’t do two of my homework assignments, and my teachers didn’t care.”

Jones received her voucher Friday, two weeks after her classes began.

FAMU is taking steps to fix this problem and make sure it will not happen in the future.

The university is installing new servers and upgrading more of its technology.

“The Enterprise Information Technology (office) said that they will try to make sure that this problem will never happen in the future,” Cotton said.