What you need to know: Student Financial Responsibility Agreement (SFRA)

What is a Student Financial Responsibility Agreement (SFRA)?

A Student Financial Responsibility Agreement (SFRA) outlines and informs students of the financial obligations and responsibilities associated with enrolling for classes at higher education institutions and explains the potential consequences that may be taken if a student fails to meet those obligations. It has become a useful tool for institutions to share and disseminate billing, payment, refund and responsibility information to students and families.

What is the goal of a SFRA?

The goal of a SFRA is to help students understand the cost of their education and the financial policies associated with their enrollment. This is why the SFRA should clearly explain expectations for payment and the policies related to billing, late payment, contact methods, and collections. Additional subjects might include, address updates, financial aid, title IV, refunding, returned payments, withdrawal, privacy rights, and more.

Are SFRAs required?

Financial institutions, including the financial departments of colleges and universities, are required by federal debt collection and consumer protection laws to be transparent with their policies/procedures and requirements. These institutions also want to ensure that students are aware of their responsibilities and the institution’s policies. For this reason, many institutions require that all students, on an annual or semester basis, accept the SFRA to acknowledge their obligations and understanding of the financial policies of their university.

How do students complete the agreement?

Typically institutions provide students with a link to a secure website that can be accessed via student ID. Students are then able to electronically complete the agreement.

How often do students need to complete the agreement?

Institutions may require students to complete the SFRA only once for their entire matriculation, annually, or at the start of each semester. If there is a regulation change or the terms of the agreement change, the institution may require that students complete an agreement that includes the updated information.

What happens if a student refuses to sign the agreement?

The SFRA provides vital account information and potential consequences for non-payment. If a student chooses not to complete the agreement, they jeopardise their ability to enroll for classes or to access university services and buildings.

Do students need to complete the SFRA if tuition and applicable fees are being covered by the university or outside funding sources?

Yes, funded students still need to complete the SFRA. It is possible that these students may accrue charges on their account which are not covered by the university and/or outside sources of aid. For example, students sponsored for tuition and fees only, may still have housing, library, parking, IT and other charges applied to their student account that they are responsible for. In these instances, students are financially responsible for those additional charges and must accept the SFRA. Additionally, in the event an account balance results from a change of circumstance in a funding source, such as a financial aid adjustment, students remain responsible for the amount due.

What if someone else, such as a sponsor or employer, is responsible for paying a student’s account?

Regardless of sponsorship or other financial arrangements, all students hold ultimate responsibility for their account, including all unpaid balances that a third-party payer may not pay completely. As such, all students must accept and sign the SFRA per their institution’s policy.

Want to learn more?

Committed to providing the higher education community with useful tools and techniques, we invite you to check out the following resources to learn more about SFRAs: