Past Due Accounts- COTOP

Students are responsible for all fees listed on their student account. Failing to drop a class or classes does not warrant a waiver of fees. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure all classes are dropped by the published date in order to avoid paying for these classes.  Any fees remaining on the student account after the start of the term are considered past due and subject to the collections process. Once annually, delinquent accounts are sent to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office for participation in the Chancellor’s Office Tax Offset Program (COTOP). This program utilizes the Franchise Tax board to retrieve fees owed to the college.

What is the Chancellor’s Office Tax Offset Program (COTOP)?

The COTOP program is a way for Palomar College to collect fees from students with a past due balance by utilizing the Franchise Tax Board. In the event that a student is owed a state tax refund, wins the California lottery, or has unclaimed property, the amount will be turned over to Palomar College to apply to the balance owed.

How do I know I’ve been sent to COTOP?

Students owing a balance that extends past the semester in which it was incurred are at risk of being sent to COTOP. Each semester, students with an unpaid balance are sent eBills to their Palomar student email address. These notices are to remind students that a balance remains on their account that needs paid. Each fall, students with past due balances with be sent a COTOP letter. Letters are sent to the mailing address on file with the college. These letters serve as a final notice to students about their past due balance. Students are given a minimum of 30 days to respond to the notice before their name is submitted to the COTOP program.

What do I need to do if I receive a COTOP letter in the mail?

Please follow the instructions on the letter. Any outstanding fees after the date listed on the letter will be submitted to COTOP. Payments can be made through your MyPalomar account, in person at one of our centers, or by sending in a check or money order to our office. In addition, Palomar College now offers a Past Due Payment Plan through Nelnet. For more information on payment methods or to inquire about signing up for a payment plan, please contact our office at 760-744-1150 x 2114. Once your account has been submitted to COTOP, the only way for it to be removed is to pay the balance in full.

If you believe these charges are in error, you can submit any objections and relevant documentation to our office. Objections must be received before the date listed on the letter. Upon receipt of your objection, a representative will review your account. If the representative determines that the fees are in error, your account will be corrected and your name will not be submitted to COTOP. If no objections are submitted, or the objection is not sufficient, we will proceed to submit your account to COTOP.

How much do I owe?

Students are responsible for knowing if they have a balance. The student’s current balance is always available on their MyPalomar account. The current balance is shown on the main page of the Student Center. For specifics, students are able to view their Account Inquiry in their MyPalomar account which will provide more detailed information including charges on the account.

Students are sent eBills each semester that they have an unpaid balance. A minimum of one eBill is sent per semester to the Palomar student email account. In addition, a minimum of one COTOP letter is sent to the student’s mailing address on file if a balance remains for an extended period of time. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their mailing address is up to date. Not receiving a letter due to an incorrect mailing address on file with the college is not the college’s responsibility.

How does it work?

If student receives a COTOP letter and decides to not pay or dispute the balance, the account will be submitted to COTOP. If the student is owed a tax refund, wins the California lottery, or has unclaimed property, the amount will be turned over to Palomar College to apply to the balance owed. Please note that if funds are received through the COTOP program, a 33% collection fee will be charged on top of the balance owed. For example, Student owes $100 to Palomar College. Student was submitted to COTOP program. Student is eligible to receive a state income tax return. Tax return will be reduced by $133 and $100 will be applied to balance at Palomar College and $33 is the collection fee given to the Chancellor’s Office.

For more information, please contact the Cashier’s Office at 760-744-1150 x 2114 or

Page Reviewed 12/13/23