Ryerson to reveal ancillary charges

By September, students will be able to see a breakdown of their ancillary fees online.

By September, students will be able to see a breakdown of their ancillary fees online.

Students curious about the extra costs tacked onto their tuition fees will be able to view a breakdown of their ancillary fees online by fall.

Heather Lane Vetere, the vice-provost students, said that students will be provided with information about ancillary fees  —  the compulsory, additional fees that are charged outside of tuition costs — on the student fees website “as soon as it can be collected and collated.

“I … will commit to trying to provide a website with general information about each fee and what it’s used for,” she said in an email, in response to a Ryersonian inquiry about where students can access detailed fee information.

“This will take some time, but I think it would be a good idea so students understand where the funds are used.”

Ryerson students pay about $560 in ancillary fees each year for 11 services, including the health and dental plan, access to student services and an athletics fee.

Additional ancillary fees include departmental fees and administrative charges.

Currently, students can see how much money they are charged for each service in the 2012-2013 fees schedule. However, there’s no further breakdown of these costs, which leaves room for suspicion.

“Institutions have started finding ways to go around protocol and charge fees to students to be able to make up for shortfalls elsewhere in the budget, like a lack of funding from government,” said Sarah Jayne King, the chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).

“So they started charging a lot of fees, and whether intentionally illegal or not, some of these fees are illegal.”

Several Ryerson ancillary fees run the risk of raising student suspicion.

Fees such as a $40 graduation fee and a $70 deferral fee for postponing payment of undergraduate tuition fees can come across as puzzling for students who have already laid down money for tuition.

“Why are they charging the $70 fee anyways?” said Rachel Passero, a first-year fashion design student. “Regardless, you’re still going to have to make your (tuition) payments. Why are you charging the $70 for that? It’s not fair.”

Passero says general fee information would help to clarify ancillary fees that are vaguely explained.

She also notes that a breakdown of her ancillary fees would prevent her from worrying about where her money goes.

“Where’s that money going to? I would like to know. It’s more of a sense of comfort with the breakdown. (So) you know you’re not getting ripped off,” said Passero. “When I first was applying to Ryerson, I was looking at the  breakdowns of the fees, but it felt like it was so much money for each … Even if you don’t use those plans, why aren’t you getting the money back at the end.”

The need for a breakdown of ancillary fees is particularly necessary after an investigation in February by University of Toronto’s student union found that students at the institution were being charged at least seven ancillary fees that violated guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

That same month, the CFS released a document called Changing Priorities, where they made recommendations for a new tuition fee framework in Ontario and reminded institutions that ancillary fees cannot breach government guidelines. The guidelines are contained in the Minister’s Binding Policy on Tuition and Ancillary Fees for colleges and Operating Funds Distribution Manual for universities.

“Institutions need to be held accountable regarding their treatment of ancillary fees,” the document said. “This would require a review of existing fees at institutions, enforcement of the provincial fee protocols, the elimination of prohibited fees and action toward refunding students for fee overpayment.”

However, Ryerson’s president, Sheldon Levy, says that the university is keeping tabs on ancillary fees.

“We review them all, we have audits of all of the university’s ancillary fees regularly,” he said.

Scott Clarke, the chief internal auditor at Ryerson elaborated, explaining that annual checks on individual ancillary fees are conducted at the tail end of each school year.

“That’s just part of our regular process that we have to ensure they’re following the ministry guidelines,” Clarke said. “I’m confident that we’ve got a pretty solid process here.”

Students curious about the extra costs tacked onto their tuition fees will be able to view a breakdown of their ancillary fees online by fall.

Heather Lane Vetere, the vice-provost students, said that students will be provided with information about ancillary fees  —  the compulsory, additional fees that are charged outside of tuition costs — on the student fees website “as soon as it can be collected and collated.

“I … will commit to trying to provide a website with general information about each fee and what it’s used for,” she said in an email, in response to a Ryersonian inquiry about where students can access detailed fee information.

“This will take some time, but I think it would be a good idea so students understand where the funds are used.”

Ryerson students pay about $560 in ancillary fees each year for 11 services, including the health and dental plan, access to student services and an athletics fee.

Additional ancillary fees include departmental fees and administrative charges.

Currently, students can see how much money they are charged for each service in the 2012-2013 fees schedule. However, there’s no further breakdown of these costs, which leaves room for suspicion.

“Institutions have started finding ways to go around protocol and charge fees to students to be able to make up for shortfalls elsewhere in the budget, like a lack of funding from government,” said Sarah Jayne King, the chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS).

“So they started charging a lot of fees, and whether intentionally illegal or not, some of these fees are illegal.”

Several Ryerson ancillary fees run the risk of raising student suspicion.

Fees such as a $40 graduation fee and a $70 deferral fee for postponing payment of undergraduate tuition fees can come across as puzzling for students who have already laid down money for tuition.

“Why are they charging the $70 fee anyways?” said Rachel Passero, a first-year fashion design student. “Regardless, you’re still going to have to make your (tuition) payments. Why are you charging the $70 for that? It’s not fair.”

Passero says general fee information would help to clarify ancillary fees that are vaguely explained.

She also notes that a breakdown of her ancillary fees would prevent her from worrying about where her money goes.

“Where’s that money going to? I would like to know. It’s more of a sense of comfort with the breakdown. (So) you know you’re not getting ripped off,” said Passero. “When I first was applying to Ryerson, I was looking at the  breakdowns of the fees, but it felt like it was so much money for each … Even if you don’t use those plans, why aren’t you getting the money back at the end.”

The need for a breakdown of ancillary fees is particularly necessary after an investigation in February by University of Toronto’s student union found that students at the institution were being charged at least seven ancillary fees that violated guidelines outlined by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

That same month, the CFS released a document called Changing Priorities, where they made recommendations for a new tuition fee framework in Ontario and reminded institutions that ancillary fees cannot breach government guidelines. The guidelines are contained in the Minister’s Binding Policy on Tuition and Ancillary Fees for colleges and Operating Funds Distribution Manual for universities.

“Institutions need to be held accountable regarding their treatment of ancillary fees,” the document said. “This would require a review of existing fees at institutions, enforcement of the provincial fee protocols, the elimination of prohibited fees and action toward refunding students for fee overpayment.”

However, Ryerson’s president, Sheldon Levy, says that the university is keeping tabs on ancillary fees.

“We review them all, we have audits of all of the university’s ancillary fees regularly,” he said.

Scott Clarke, the chief internal auditor at Ryerson elaborated, explaining that annual checks on individual ancillary fees are conducted at the tail end of each school year.

“That’s just part of our regular process that we have to ensure they’re following the ministry guidelines,” Clarke said. “I’m confident that we’ve got a pretty solid process here.”

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on April 10, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × 3 =

Previous Next
Close
Test Caption
Test Description goes like this
Read previous post:
April 10, 2013 Issue

Close