Tuition feared lost

Box for Shepherd payments broken into

Box for Shepherd payments broken into

January 06, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN - Up to $300,000 worth of Shepherd College tuition payments may have been stolen when someone broke into a post office box in Charleston, W.Va., on New Year's Eve, college officials said Sunday.

The post office box that was broken into at the post office was the box that is set up to receive payments, college officials said.

Although college officials are not sure how many tuition payments were stolen from the box, if any, it is estimated there may have been between 150 and 300 payments totaling between $150,000 and $300,000, said Ed Magee, vice president for administration and finance at Shepherd.


Although Shepherd College President David L. Dunlop said Sunday it is possible there were no payments in the box, he said it is "highly unlikely."

Shepherd College students can make their tuition payments by sending the money to the state treasurer's office in Charleston, school officials said.

On Friday, college officials sent e-mails and letters through regular mail to students whose payments have not been received by the college as of Thursday.

The letter advises students that their tuition payments may have been stolen in the break-in and encourages them to review their accounts with the college.

Students can determine if their tuition payment has been credited to their account by using the "RAIL" system on the college's Web site.

It is possible that any tuition checks mailed on or before Dec. 31 are still being handled by the postal service, said the letter to students, which is posted on the site.

The letter tells students that they may be at risk of fraudulent acts because of personal information that may be contained in the payments.

An attempt could be made to cash any checks used to make payments, use credit card information in the payments to make fraudulent purchases or use Social Security information to commit fraud, the letter said.

Students who paid by check are being encouraged to notify their banks that the check may have been stolen and students who paid by credit card are being encouraged to notify their credit card company that their credit card information may have been stolen, the letter said.

The letter informs students that their classes for the upcoming spring semester, which begins Jan. 13, will not be dropped for nonpayment if their payments were stolen.

"However, you will need to make your payment again," the letter states.

School officials will send students a new bill if they have not received payment by Wednesday. The due date on the new bill will be Jan. 31, the letter said.

Sending tuition payments to the state treasurer's office is one of the payment options that is offered to students, Dunlop said. Students can also make payments at the college.

After students make payments to the state treasurer's office, the treasurer's office notifies the school of who made the payment and for how much, Dunlop said.

"We like that system because it puts a lot of the clerical work in Charleston," said Dunlop, adding that a "vast majority" of payments are sent to Charleston.

Someone tried to break into three post office boxes in the burglary but the Shepherd College box was the only one that was opened, Magee said.

The burglary occurred in the main post office in Charleston, Magee said.

One of the other boxes that was targeted belonged to West Virginia University, Magee said.

"We understand that this situation creates a great inconvenience for our students, and we are using every means possible to inform our students of this occurrence," Magee said in a press release from the college.

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