Hidden costs plague students

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By Astoria Luzzi

The last installment of tuition was due weeks ago but students are still forking out large sums for school supplies that they did not even know they needed in the first place.

The extra cost is mainly due to ancillary fees, additional fees for supplies and equipment that are not included in tuition and are not mentioned before acceptance in to a program. Since these fees are not factored into students’ tuition, they are not covered under financial assistance programs.

For students relying on the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), this poses a problem because additional educational costs cannot be taken into account for reassessment between terms. The OSAP office declined to comment on this matter.

Ryerson University’s School of Fashion seems to be the most demanding when it comes to ancillary fees, requiring students to purchase four separate supply kits totaling approximately $700.

“If I hadn’t gotten scholarships, OSAP would not have covered all of the extra costs, and I pretty much would have been screwed,” said Trista Capitano, a first-year fashion communication student.

Capitano’s first installment of OSAP has not come through yet and she was forced to pay for the supplies out of her own pocket.

Sydney Roney, who is a first-year fashion design student, had a similar experience. Roney did not receive her first installment of OSAP in time for her first classes and was forced to pay for the ancillary fees by taking a bank loan.

Ryerson image arts students also face high ancillary fees because their program requires them to buy a host of lighting and exposure equipment, said Roberts Burley, director of photography. Students are also advised to invest in their own digital cameras, which further increases their expenses.

“What we do is try to have a certain number of each type of equipment available if a student is not able to purchase them,” said Burley.

Other programs are not nearly as harsh on students when it comes to extra equipment and cost. Journalism students taking online reporting for instance, have access to brand-new Motorolla smartphones for a whole semester without any cost.

“I’m disgusted,” said first-year early childhood education student Catherine Wojnowska. “They should just even it out across the programs.”

Students can find ancillary fee information online, but the listed departmental ancillary fees are vague and far from accurate. The guidelines list a fee of $140 for fashion students and $160 for image arts students, which is only a fraction of what is actually being charged to student bank accounts.

Photo: Luc Rinaldi

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