By Brad Whitehouse
Associate News Editor
When it came time to pay her tuition fees, Navreet thought she took all the steps to avoid penalties. She arranged a bank transfer into her RAMSS account for the Sept. 10 deadline, and made sure to pay the full amount to avoid the deferral fee. She didn’t expect she would have to pay late fees on her credit card, while she waited 30 days for Ryerson to fork over her OSAP cheque.
“Ryerson stole my money,” she said.
This year, Navreet, a third-year aerospace engineering student, was eligible for $2000 in OSAP, but right now it’s sitting in her RAMSS account as excess funds.
At Ryerson, there’s no quick fix to this kind of problem. After money is deposited into a student’s RAMSS account, a request form must be completed and handed in to the student fees and enrollment office. The office has to review the application and approve it. From there the problem is handed over to student financial services who writes out and mails a cheque to the student. The process can take up to 30 days.
“I have to pay MasterCard bills for textbooks but then I have to pay a late payment on that because I’m waiting for the OSAP money.”
Navreet’s tuition is fully paid, and she planned to use part of her OSAP money to pay for textbooks. But when she went to pick up her OSAP cheque on Sept. 7, a few days before the tuition fee deadline, she was told that all of the money would have to go into her RAMSS account.
Navreet was told that in order to pick up her OSAP as a cheque, she had to already have made a $3500 minimum payment into her account. Instead, her OSAP money had to be put directly into her RAMSS account.
“The date’s not until Sept. 10. Why would I make a partial payment beforehand of $3500?”
This was the question Navreet said she asked the financial advisor, who didn’t have any answers for her.
“For me, it’s not at all organized,” Navreet said. “I didn’t know there was a partial payment. No one mentioned that in the OSAP papers.”
Navreet was left in the lurch. OSAP money or not, she had to buy textbooks for her class, and charged the course materials, which she says cost her about $500, to her credit card. She’s still waiting for a cheque from Ryerson to pay off her bills.
University Registrar Keith Alnwick said that there is no minimum payment that students have to make before they pick up there OSAP.
“What does happen is that a sum roughly equivalent to 60 per cent of full-time Fall tuition fees (this year set at $3,500) is deducted from OSAP awards before the funds are distributed to the student,” said Alnwick.
David Sigal, assistant registrar at the student fees and enrollment office, said that it is the university’s policy that refunds take up to 30 days, but that it doesn’t always take this long.
“I won’t quote a concrete time because it depends on the individual’s case,” he said.
“It depends on the volume and the time of year.”
When asked if there was anything that the office could do to help students like Navreet, he said that sometimes special arrangements can be made.
“We’re more than happy if there is a good reason.”
At the University of Toronto, students receiving OSAP are able to defer any tuition payments until the financial aid is received.
“They don’t pay anything up front because they’ve got OSAP funding coming in,” said David Sidebottom, manager of financial aid services at U of T.
He said that there is no 30 day policy on student fee refunds, but estimated it would take about a couple of weeks. He added that the university can directly deposit refunded fees into students bank accounts to avoid any postal delays.
“It wouldn’t take a month,” Sidebottom said.
At U of T students receiving OSAP are able to defer any tuition payments until the financial aid is received.
“They don’t pay anything upfront because they’ve got OSAP funding coming in,” said Sidebottom.
Photo: Lindsay Boeckl