Unpaid tuition

‘We don’t want to add stress to people’s lives’

Cenk Ayitmur, Sci ’11, says being undercharged on tuition has made things tougher financially. Ayitmur is one of 770 engineering students required to pay additional tuition fees, due in June.
Cenk Ayitmur, Sci ’11, says being undercharged on tuition has made things tougher financially. Ayitmur is one of 770 engineering students required to pay additional tuition fees, due in June.

30 per cent of engineering students are required to pay up to $3,000 in tuition by June 1 after the Registrar’s office mistakenly undercharged students on QCARD.

The mistake occurred in September and was noticed by the Registrar’s office in mid-December after enrollment audits were complete.

AMS IT Manager Cenk Ayitmur, Sci ’11, was undercharged tuition and said that as a student on OSAP, the extra tuition charge wasn’t something he had budgeted for.

“It does make things a little tougher financially,” Ayitmur said. “OSAP isn’t going to be covering most of [the extra tuition], about one fifth.” Though not thrilled with the Registrar’s decision, Ayitmur said he understands where the University is coming from financially.

“I went into the Registrar’s office and they were very open and helpful in [showing me] where I stood financially,” Ayitmur said.

Andrew Ness, associate registrar, said the University has fully acknowledged the error and sent out emails to engineering students affected by the tuition change in early January.

“We don’t want to add stress to people’s lives, so the [fees from] the re-assessed amount aren’t due until June,” Ness said.

The fees were originally set to be due May 1, but the date was extended after members of the Engineering Society expressed concern that some students would be unable to pay the fee without summer employment.

Ness said the undercharge occurred in part because of the outdated QCARD system and the complicated manner of calculating tuition in the Faculty of Applied Science. Unlike faculties like Arts and Science which charge students per course, the Faculty of Applied Science has a fee ceiling in place, which caps the amount of tuition a student will pay if they take a full course load, Ness said.

“A calculation is done [if students] are below the fee ceiling,” Ness said, adding that it was an error in this calculation that lead to some students being undercharged.

Because all first-year engineering students are required to take a full course load, they weren’t affected by the undercharge. 770 students are required to pay additional fees ranging between $100 and $1,460 for domestic students or $400 and $3,000 for international students. All of the affected students were taking less than six credits, however this doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t full time students.

Ness reiterated that the undercharge should not be causing students financial stress.

“Much of what we re-assessed we expect to be covered with Queen’s bursary money and provincial aid,” Ness said, adding that students on the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) have automatically been re-assessed their OSAP entitlement, which should help cover the addition cost of the tuition fees. “[In addition] students have to check to see whether these additional fees actually allow them to qualify for OSAP …There’s Queen’s bursary money in the budget that [students] can apply for. What would be really disappointing would be if a student did qualify for financial assistance but didn’t apply,” Ness said.

Although he is aware that some students have been unhappy with the Registrar’s decision to charge the extra amount, Ness said that this was a necessary move for the University.

“Thirty per cent of students were given a discount. It was an equity issue,” Ness said.

AMS Academic Affairs Commissioner Kieran Slobodin said he met with EngSoc and the Registrar to ensure that students were aware of their financial aid options.

“From our perspective, it was a really unfortunate situation …the Registrar didn’t consult the student government first. I wish there was better communication [at the beginning] but I think they handled the aftermath really well,” Slobodin, ArtSci ’12, said.

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