By Shannon Higgins
After three months of research, administration is close to making a final decision about splitting Ryerson’s tuition fee payments between semesters.
“We’re looking into splitting tuition into two payments — can it be done and the cost for doing it,” said VP Students Zouheir Fawaz.
Though he can’t say when an announcement will be made, Fawaz is confident that a decision will happen soon.
“It’s possible for [tuition to be split] next year — if the research leads in that direction,” he said. Although he acknowledges the financial loss Ryerson will suffer — the school rakes in an extra $400,000 from interest and late fees by charging tuition fees in September — Fawaz doubts that tuition will rise as a result of changing the fee schedule.
Some students struggle to pay tuition because Ontario Students Assistance Program (OSAP) loans are divided into September and January payments.
As a result, second-year interior design student Sarah Gatenby had to get a student line of credit in order to pay her tuition fees on time. “Once that money leaves my account — I’m paying interest on it,” she said.
She’s angry that Ryerson makes money collecting interest on her tuition payment, while she is hit first with bills and then with monthly interest fees.
It’s not just hard for students who qualify for OSAP, said Brianne Price, a second-year new media student. Her parents expected the tuition payment to be hefty but were surprised they were hit with so much so early in the year.
“Ninety per cent of students can’t afford [to pay tuition] upfront. It’s completely ridiculous,” she said. In October, President Sheldon Levy shot down a Senate motion in support of splitting Ryerson tuition fees to coincide with the OSAP), student Senate representative Toby Whitfield said. “It’s ironic that we are punishing our students who need support and who need OSAP by collecting fees early or charging interest,” he said.
If passed, the motion would have forced Levy, the chair of the Senate, to bring the issue to the Board of Governors.
But Levy squashed the motion saying it was out of order because it’s an administrative issue and not a matter to be deliberated by either the Senate or the Board of Governors. Instead, director of financial services Janice Winton, Provost and VP Academic Dr. Alan Shepard, Fawaz and other administrators met with Whitfield and Ryerson Students’ Union President Nora Loreto, to discuss the issue.
Whitfield said the meeting concluded with the promise of looking into different processes that Ryerson could adopt to meet students’ needs.
Although the meeting took place in October, little has happened.
“It’s because they already have this program instated that makes money,” Loreto said. “Why are we making money off students like this?”
Other schools, meanwhile, already allow students to pay their fees in two equal installments.
Chris Mota, spokesperson for Concordia University sees the rationale behind the split. “Anyone who can have their bills spread out over time has more time to plan,” he said. “It’s the way we’ve always done it here.”