Residence fees at Ryerson University have increased by four to five per cent this academic year, even though students received fewer OSAP grants overall.
Housing and Residence Life will use the extra money to revamp aging buildings by purchasing new furniture and replacing windows, said Valerie Bruce, the manager of housing operations and administration at Ryerson. She added that the university also has to adjust its residence fees based on the increasing costs associated with maintaining campus buildings, such as hydro and water price hikes.
“[Price increases are] based on things like inflation,” Bruce said. “Costs like utilities, staffing and contractors that support what happens here, those go up. So based on how those raised, we needed to raise our income through residence fees to balance that.” The Canadian net inflation rate in 2018 was 2.24 per cent.
Residence fees will increase by up to four per cent for students in the International Living/Learning Centre and HOEM Residence. For those in Pitman Hall, fees will rise by five per cent.
Lauren Chan, a first-year interior design student, said her friend found a cockroach in her Pitman Hall suite and the furniture is deteriorating.
“Stuff is broken in my room,” Chan said. “The counters are chipped, wood is falling off and it’s not clean.”
Some students, on the other hand, say they are stressed about the prospect of having to pay more money because the provincial government decreased the amount of grants several students receive.
When Charlize Alcaraz was accepted into the Ryerson School of Journalism at the beginning of 2019, she calculated how much it would cost to live on campus. Alcaraz figured she had enough to cover residence fees and tuition, which meant she would not have to work during the school year.
After learning of the increase, however, she now has to work throughout the year because she does not have enough money. Alcaraz said she is finding it difficult to balance work, school and getting enough sleep, so she fears it may affect her studies.
“The increase is definitely a struggle for me and probably for a lot of other students,” Alcaraz said. “I have a lot of closing shifts working at Forever 21. So I usually stay there until 11 p.m. With late nights like that, it’s hard to stay up to do my readings and assignments.”
Bruce said Housing and Residence Life staff understand students’ challenges and have improved their instalment process and payment plans to help ease their worries.
Students living in on-campus residences would pay their fees in two instalments during previous school years — once in June and then another in November. As costs have been increasing over the years, Bruce said the university has changed its process so charges can now be paid in four instalments: June, October, January and March.
If students need more time to save, Bruce added, they can also work with a representative from Housing and Residence Life to create a custom payment plan. Their staff consult with students about where their school funds are coming from and strategize how students will pay their fees throughout the year. The plan gives students the option to pay a portion in June, and then they are given an extension to pay the rest.
“We recognized that for some students the pricing or the timeline can be difficult,” Bruce said. “So we try to provide options where we can for students that are having some of those needs to try to support them.”
Bruce said students should also understand that the increase in residence fees does not relate to the university being forced by the provincial government to decrease tuition by 10 per cent. She says Housing and Residence Life is self-funded and receives no financial aid from student tuition.