Monday, January 11, 2010

Rip-off at NIU

Wait 'til you call NIU and want to verify a degree or past dates of attendance!

They are too up-scale to hire a student or have an intern to give out simple information by phone. Instead, now, they are big-time and re-direct callers to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) at

Once you get there, you find out that, for the exorbitant charge to your credit card of $9.00, you can find out whether a person holds a degree from NIU and what his or her past dates of attendance were. That is, I am sure, if that person is in their records. I wonder how they handle requests, should they not find a record of a degree or past dates of attendance.

Is it like calling Directory Assistance, where you get nailed the $2.00, whether or not the operator finds a listed number for the person whose phone number you want?

NIU is extra special in another way. It'll cost you $9.00 to get the information you want, if NSC has it. For most of the schools and colleges listed, the fee is $6.50. Why does NIU distinguish itself in this manner by charging NSC more, which gets passed along to the NSC customer?

Well, let's find out if there is more than one way to skin this cat. I'll just call on my friend, Mr. FOIA, for a little help.

1 comment:

hazeleyes said...

I'd rather they do that than hire someone for hundreds of thousands of dollars as I recently learned the Chicago school system does for a desk-jockey (aka patronage worker -- isn't this illegal?!) who handles the annual holiday calendar. The person makes close to $300,000, and that amount presumably did not include her benefits, which could swell her annual take as much as 50%, to $450,000. Sweet. How many official holidays are on the US calendar? And don't all Chicago public schools operate on the same calendar? How is this worth $450,000? Gus, you need to look into that!

I believe that folks should pay for what they get, and get what they pay for.

This is not rocket science.

If the U recognizes it can't afford a staffer to perform this important (for students) function, which needs to be accurate and timely and so might require some time for each request (a full-timer), then the solution they have chosen seems fair for all.

If someone doesn't want to pay fopr the service, that's their choice, they can keep records to prove their hours and grades.

Hiring students might sound like a solution, but I can think of other parallels where untrained part-timers stand in for professionals and the result is completely unsatisfactory if accurate and timely performance of the work is considered. Unskilled part-timers standing in for nurses at hospitals is one that comes to mind.

Your solution (part-time student help) sounds good until one mulls over the possible unintended consequences.