Tuition policy change hurts students

The University’s new tuition payment policy comes at the detriment of students, and amounts to a cash grab.

Patrick Allin, ArtSci ’13
Patrick Allin, ArtSci ’13

Patrick Allin, ArtSci ’13

On Oct. 14, University Registrar Jo-Anne Brady appeared before AMS Assembly to present the University’s new information system. The transition to this new system has resulted in a new fee payment schedule for tuition.

Under the new system, the full tuition payment for the entire academic year is due by Sept. 1. Deferrals are allowed for OSAP loans, provided the student submits evidence of the application. Student fees are due on Sept. 30.

This represents a change from current policy that requires full tuition and fee payment by Sept. 30.

Late payments are charged an interest rate of prime plus three per cent, which works out to six per cent annual interest on late payments. According to the Registrar, this system brings Queen’s in line with other Ontario universities.

It’s clear from the University’s perspective why full tuition payment will be required on Sept. 1. This move brings tens of millions of dollars into the University a full 30 days earlier than the current deadline does.

Queen’s can then invest these funds, earning interest, slightly increasing tuition revenue. With pension obligations, a lowered credit rating and debt on capital projects, the University needs all the cash it can get.

The new system is detrimental to students because it requires the payment of tuition earlier than the current policy. The consequences of late tuition payment can be both financially and academically detrimental.

Many students work during the summer to help fund their education. Tuition for a full course load for undergraduates ranges from $5,205 for a domestic student in Arts and Science to $25,300 for an international student in Commerce. According to the Registrar, “students are not earning money in September.”

Thus, according to this logic, the tuition deadline change will not affect students funding their education through summer jobs. This is wrong.

Next year, classes begin on Sept. 12, 2011. That’s a week and a half into September, 10 days that a student can still work to earn money towards paying his or her tuition. The revised tuition deadline quashes this opportunity, as the tuition payment will be due before classes have begun.

The OSAP program has a grey area where a student may still not have enough money to fully fund his or her tuition.

A student’s parents may earn an income above the OSAP cutoff, etc, but still not have enough money for their education, due to a variety of factors and circumstances.

Thus, the student may need to take out a bank loan, which charges interest on the principal amount of the loan.

Next year, some students will need to take out a loan 30 days earlier than they would have this year, since full tuition will be due 30 days earlier.

This will cost the student one month of carrying costs for the loan that they otherwise would not have to pay, increasing the financial burden on the student once he or she graduates.

With Queen’s increasing tuition fees between four and eight per cent, it is inappropriate to burden a select group of students with this inequitable policy.

The most concerning part of the new policy are the consequences for students who don’t pay their tuition in full.

Currently, a student with debt owed to Queen’s can still register for courses, provided that the minimum registration payment has been made. This debt, appropriately, will accrue interest. If a student is tight for money, he or she does not need to worry about being dropped from courses.

Under the new policy, a student may be bumped from a course if another student who has paid in full requests that course.

Many students opt to accrue interest on tuition they owe to Queen’s, and work part time throughout the year to pay it off.

This avoids or lessens the need to take out a loan, which can burden the student with high interest rates and fees in the future.

Under the new system, students who do not pay in full by Sept. 1 will risk being dropped from their classes, and may not be able to modify their schedule during add/drop.

What’s the solution? Changing the already approved revised tuition payment schedule is not feasible.

Queen’s has already shifted the minimum registration payment deadline back from Aug. 30 to Aug. 1, presumably with the same interest earning goals in mind.

However, this policy must be revised to ensure that missing a payment date will not boot a student out of a course that he or she may need for future studies.

Such a policy is inequitable and places an unfair burden on many students.

Everyone should be on an equal footing at Queen’s. The revised tuition payment policy is inequitable across the board, as it punishes students academically who cannot pay in full—this is inappropriate for the University environment.

Queen’s missed the mark in consulting students on this policy change. Requiring full tuition payment by Sept. 1 may increase financial burden on many students. More importantly, the academic consequences are inappropriate and detrimental.

The Queen’s online Viewbook page describes Queen’s as an “academic community.”

This change in tuition payment policy does not foster an academic community, but rather it can make a Queen’s education inaccessible.

Queen’s created and approved this policy change without consulting the student body. Please contact the Rector and the University Registrar to voice your opinion—it’s important and your voice will make a difference.

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