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November 8, 2001 University revises transfer of student fees



by Barbara Black

Due to a dramatic increase in unpaid debts by some students, the university has changed its policy of remitting student fees in advance to student organizations.

Concordia acts as a collection agent on behalf of student organizations, billing the approved student organization fee (usually per credit), and then remitting the funds to the CSU.

However, from now on, the transfers of fees that take place in October and January will reflect the amount billed for that term only. In addition, a “bad debt” fee of 1.61 per cent will be applied against all transfers to student organizations. This practice conforms to practice at most other universities.

The last few years have seen uncollected fees skyrocket from $221,372 in 1995-96 to $783,241 in 2000-01. Those bad debts by students amount to 1.61 per cent of the total amount billed to students by the university.

Vice Rector Services Michael Di Grappa explained. “At Concordia, many courses cover both the fall and winter terms. These full-year courses are billed in the fall, but the winter term portion is due only on Jan. 30.

“Until recently, the university simply transferred in the fall the full amount billed for fall and winter fees, and not the amount actually collected. Most students, however, follow the fee payment schedule and do not actually pay their full fees until January 30. Unfortunately, some students default on the fees charged and never pay the amount due.

“As a result, the university has been transferring money to student organizations for many years that it had not yet collected, and some that has never been collected. In fact, the university has forwarded hundreds of thousands of dollars to student organizations in the last several years that it either collected at a later date or never collected at all.”

Recognizing the impact of this change in policy on some student organizations, Chief Financial Officer Larry English recently met with representatives of several student organizations and will be continuing to look for ways for student associations to cope with the financial burden of instituting this policy.

Patrice Blais, Concordia Student Union vice-president, finance, and interim president, said, “This policy is yet another sign of bad faith. No negotiations or notice were given to any of the student associations. The university, by their action, has jeopardized services to students by implementing this in the middle of a fiscal year.”