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Thurston Academy

Description of Firm

Thurston Academy is a military school operated for profit, which enrolls students of junior high and
high school age, providing room and board, academic training, and college preparation. Four
hundred and fifty cadets are enrolled at the Thurston Academy, many of whom are attending on
scholarship or as a student loan program. Some students are subsidized by their families, and some
are supported by funds from state agencies or endowment programs.

System Overview

Thurston Academy periodically bills parents, state agencies, and other fund providers for resident
tuition. The data flow diagram below illustrates Thurston Academy’s billing system. Prompt
collection of tuition fees is important in order to maintain the institution’s sound cash flow.
Thurston Academy has a substantial payroll to meet each month and this is paid out of student
tuition receipts. State agencies require Thurston Academy to bill them for tuition on a semester
basis. Some parents prefer to be billed on a semester basis, while others request quarterly or even
monthly billing. Those students who receive endowments are usually funded on an annual basis. As
a result, the academy offers a variety of billing arrangements. This diversity affects cash flow and
makes financial planning difficult.

Payment Billing Cadet’s


Cadet’s
Family
Family

Endowment
Endowment Payment Billing Billing
Program
Program System

State State
Agency Agency
Payment Billing
Client
File

Hands-on Application

You have been asked to investigate the present billing and tuition accounting system. You are to
gather opinions both within the organization and from clients regarding the academy’s billing
system. The objective is to make observations regarding the weaknesses of the present system and
to make recommendations for improvement. The observations and recommendations will be used
to design and implement a more efficient billing system. The new system should reduce billing
costs, smooth out cash flow problems, and facilitate the academy’s long range financial planning.

7
Work Product No. 1
A) Make an analysis of Thurston Academy’s clients and prepare a list of individuals or
organization that will be either interviewed or receive a questionnaire. The study should
sample clients from all the various billing cycles. Considering the number of students that
are enrolled design a plan that will interview 5% of the students and mail questionnaires to
10% of Thurston Academy clients.
B) Before starting requirement A above, prepare a task list to help define the population and
sample to be questioned.

Work Product No. 2


A) Prepare a task list to assist you in the preparation of a questionnaire that will be mailed to
Thurston Academy’s clients. The questionnaire is described in Work Product No. 2 B) below.
B) Prepare a questionnaire that surveys preferences regarding tuition payment. It should
assess various billing cycles and the client’s willingness to change or to be billed on a
monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual basis.

Work Product No. 3


A) You are to interview a variety of Thurston Academy’s clients and discuss billing procedures.
Prepare a set of structured interview questions that will be used to assess the client’s billing
preferences.

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