Reid seeks $50 grant for OSAP deferral fees

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

If you are on OSAP how much does a $50 deferral fee worth to you? It’s amounts to $133,000 for Western in billing.

Board of Governors member Matt Reid wants the university to recognize students’ dire financial situation and lift its $50 deferral fee.

The university charges a $50 deferral fee to any full-time undergraduate who chooses to pay tuition in two installments.

Students on OSAP, who receive government loans in two separate chunks, incur the unwanted fee.

Reid is working with university administration, including associate registrar Glen Tigert, to find solutions for students.

“Some students do not receive enough financial aid, and they’re slipping through the cracks,” Reid said. “We need to reach out and help them.”

Gitta Kulczycki, vice-president of resources and operations, said it is important to note it costs money to file more than one invoice or tuition payment.

“We’re not trying to target students on OSAP,” she said. “We’re trying to cover the cost of deferring tuition.”

Kulczycki explained the breakdown of administration fees.

“In general, about 35 per cent of students who choose to pay in two installments are on OSAP. That amounts to $133,000 collected in billing.”

However, Western spends $77,000 on staff, paper, mailing, and other administrative costs to maintain the two-installment system.

Kulczycki also calculated an additional $113,000 is lost in forgone interest.

“None of these costs would go away,” Kulczycki said. “Even now the university loses $57,000.”

Instead of eliminating deferral fees entirely, Reid recommends the university award a $50 dollar grant to OSAP students.

“I realize this is something small,” Reid said. “But at least it’s a step in the right direction.”

Melissa Gordon, a fourth-year psychology student and OSAP recipient, said she was aware of the deferral fees, but had no strong feelings about them.

“[The fees] are probably necessary in terms of administrative cost,” she said. “Tuition is being processed twice, right?

“I think in the grand scheme of things, 50 bucks isn’t that much. For someone with a part-time job, that’s five hours of work,” Gordon added.

“Remember, there’s no free lunch,” Kulczycki said. “We’d have to figure out where the money would come from ... There are many different things we’d like to do, but sometimes tough choices need to be made.

“Western and the Student Services Committee must assess the needs of students, but sometimes it is difficult to rank those needs,” Kulczycki concluded.

Reid maintains Western needs to do a better job getting financial aid to its students. “We need to zero in and help however we can.”

Reid hopes to resolve the issues in upcoming BOG meetings.

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