However, according to the audit, the policy turned out to have only a nominal impact. It is true that 95.5 percent of 334 universities and graduate schools nationwide are allowing payment in installments and the period and the number of possible divided payments have increased after the introduction of the policy. However, while such a payment scheme seemingly give the impression that payment methods are widely available and easy, reality speaks otherwise. The portion of students who actually paid in installments remained at 3.39 percent, similar to that of last year. Also, 56.6 percent of universities are still not accepting credit cards payments. On the whole, the policy proves to be ineffective in actual practice.
Regarding the installment payment plan, the fundamental problem is that only specific groups of students can benefit from it. 71.7 percent of four year colleges are not allowing freshmen and transfer students to pay fees in installments. The reason behind this is that schools are worried about potential dropouts after students’ entrance. Also, around 50 percent of universities are limiting students who benefit from scholarships or student loans from making divided payments on tuition fees.
“Of course, many students including myself prefer to pay in installments,” said Kim Eun-su, a senior student of Hanyang University. “However, I was never allowed to pay over many times because I received various types of scholarship every semester. Even though some scholarships do not provide much financial support, I was not eligible for paying by installments.”
Credit card payment is showing even slower progress. Among 162 universities who allowed credit cards, more than half of them accepted credit cards from one assigned company.
“I tried to pay fees with the credit card but I realized that I could not because I did not have Woori Card, the only acceptable one,” said a freshman from Sogang University. “So I had to issue a new one which was very inconvenient.”
The essential obstacle in activating credit cards payments is universities’ reluctance to bear the burden of commission. Although using credit card lessens students’ burden of having to pay a large sum of money at once, it only accumulates the amount of commission that universities have to bear. Thus, some universities do not allow payments in installments when students pay with credit cards to avoid commission fees.
“It is a shame that the policy introduced to help financially needy students do not actually benefit them,” said an official from Korean Council for University Education who wishes to remain anonymous. “I hope revisions to be made so that tuition payment system fulfills its original purpose of unburdening students.”