A Red Deer College student says it’s wrong that he was charged a late fee by the college because tuition assistance from the government was late.
He said it’s also not fair that it took about six weeks for the college to refund the tuition deposit he paid out of his own pocket in order to remain enrolled while waiting for financial confirmation from Alberta Works.
“It’s just causing serious issues with everyone’s finances. We’re all students,” said Kyle, who did not want to use his last name.
“The college shouldn’t be doing that period, let alone in a situation like this,” he said about the pandemic.
“I was waiting on funding from Alberta Works and they were behind.”
He said he was charged a $50 late fee and a $50 deferral fee for tuition payment.
“When (RDC) owes us, it’s a six-week wait. But if we owe them, we lose $100. That’s not right,” the student said.
Shannon Humphrey, vice-president academic with the Students’ Association of Red Deer College, said this was the first complaint she has heard about tuition late fees or refund delays.
“Just because students aren’t on campus, I don’t know if they’re not coming to speak to us as much. They can still drop in,” Humphrey said.
Registrar Trish Nuyten said the college just started requiring a tuition deposit, which is due April 30. Those admitted after April 30 must pay the deposit within 30 days of being admitted.
“We were probably the only institution in the province that didn’t do that. We’d wait until mid-August until the total tuition was due, and then scramble to backfill our seats when students didn’t pay their tuition,” Nuyten said.
“This is helping us to manage that work a bit better. It also provides students who are on a wait list the opportunity to be admitted much sooner than two weeks before the start of classes.”
She said deposit refunds can take up to two to six weeks depending on the how many refunds are being processed, and six weeks is way too long.
“That’s a sticking point. We are looking at trying to improve that service definitely.”
Nuyten said the onus is on students to apply for funding as soon as possible, and there has not been an increase in the number of students charged late fees. They can appeal the fees if there are extenuating circumstances, and this student has not yet appealed.
“We know there are extenuating circumstances, particularly with the pandemic, and we are more than willing to work with students.”
She said the majority of RDC students do rely on some form of financial aid.
“Last winter when the pandemic hit hard, we did have a lot of our students reach out for some emergency bursaries or emergency loans, more so than we ever had. We’re trying to be prepared for that again this fall,” Nuyten said.