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Updated on Sunday, November 23

#20165

OMG: I just died a little inside looking at fees for next term. They wouldn't be so bad if it were not for the $500 in incidental fees that we are getting tagged for. I don't understand why I have to pay for things that k don't even use, having non-refundable fees is definitely a piss off.

22 comments

  1. Agreed. I don't use the school gyms, I don't care about Feds anything, and blergh.

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  2. Most of them aren't non-refundable!

    First, what can you NOT get back?

    -> The Student Services Fee: This pays for basically everything on campus that isn't tuition and co-op. Aside from the athletic facilities (which they do cover and you are therefore allowed to use free of additional charges!), this is the fee that covers Counselling Services, the Student Success Office, and everything in between.

    -> The Feds Fee: You have to be a member of the Student Union in order to be a student, that's just the way it works. Your Feds Fee gets you a membership and a vote in elections/general meetings. It's set BY students and can only be increased (or decreased!) at General Meetings OF students who have paid the fee. You don't like it? That's just democracy - lobby to change it.

    -> GRT Bus Pass: This allows you to use your watcard as a bus pass. There was a referendum of the entire student body just this year which voted overwhelmingly to keep this fee, because the result is AWESOME. You don't like it? Again, that's just democracy. Students chose this.

    SO WHAT CAN YOU GET BACK?

    -> WPIRG Fee: Refundable, and you still get to attend WPIRG functions (but lose your vote in their members meetings).
    -> Student Health and Dental Plan: Not refundable, but you can opt out.
    -> Imprint Fee: Refundable, and you can still read the paper.
    -> Endowment Fund Contribution: Refundable, but you can't participate.
    -> Student Refugee Plan: Refundable.
    -> Student Society Fee: Refundable, but you lose access to the services.

    Have I missed anything?

    Underlying logic (refundable fees): This is important, everybody should pay into this, but if individuals decide they don't like it we we will give their money back before it's even been handed over to the organization in question.

    Underlying logic (non-refundable fees): Same principle as taxes - if everybody pays into it then the service and quality is better and the fee itself is cheaper than a strict 'user fee' model would be. In most cases, these fees are determined democractically BY the student body - the act of collective choice, not imposition by a 3rd party.

    If you choose not to take advantage of the services that your fees open up to you, then that's your choice, but not anybody else's problem.

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  3. How do we refund the fees? I am a first year student and I didn't even know such fees were refundable.

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    1. It varies from fee to fee. The guidelines are (for the most part) on the UW Finance website: https://uwaterloo.ca/finance/student-accounts/refunds

      -> WPIRG: Go to their office in the first 2 weeks of term, request a refund. They'll have you fill out a form.
      -> Imprint: Same process as WPIRG.
      -> Your Student Society: Same process as the 2 above. They will also verify that you have not made use of any Society services (other than the purchase of merchandise) since the start of term before granting your refund.
      -> Endowment Fund Contribution: check the website of your faculty's endowment fund for the link to the refund form. It must be filled out within the first 2 weeks of term.
      -> Student Refugee Plan: Get in touch with the Feds VP Operations & Finance - vpof@feds.ca, at the start of term.
      -> Health and Dental Plan: The opt-out date for the year is sometime in... July or August, I believe. Go to ihaveaplan.ca for more info.

      With the exception of the Health and Dental Plan (if you opt out, you simply won't be charged the fee on your account), the refunds will be issued in the form of a credit to your student account, which will usually be mailed to you by the University as a cheque sometime in the middle of the term.

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  4. Tuition should cover student services like counciling services and all the rest. The university has managed to get us to accept that somehow tuition is only for "academics" as opposed to everything that's involved in going to a university.

    Underlying logic: only those that can afford to pay for university should get to go. Or if you can't afford, you should go into debt and gamble that you'll get a job that will allow you to pay off the debt. Bottomline, education is not a public good that benefits society as a whole that therefore should be paid for via income taxes. It is a personal.investment to be paid for privately. Underlying logic is elitist bs.

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    1. 4, the university doesn't actually get to decide what tuition covers. The reason tuition doesn't cover Counselling Services, Athletics, or anything other than academics, is because the provincial governments tuition guidelines say it isn't allowed to.

      Those guidelines then go on to describe 'ancillary fees' - the fees for everything non-academic, and limit how much in ancillary fees the university can charge per capita.
      Anything beyond that has to be a student ancillary fee - i.e. a fee that students voluntarily initiate, via their student union.

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    2. 4, while it may not be true of all universities, Waterloo has never turned a student away due to financial need.

      There's a reason that the school hands out tens of thousands of dollars in bursaries, scholarships, and financial aid every year. There's a reason that OSAP exists.

      It's got nothing to do with "only those who can afford to pay for university should get to go." But the money to have the rest of society pay for us to attend university - it just doesn't exist. So yes, we have to pay. And if we can't afford to pay, THEN there are accommodations for us - bursaries if we perform very well academically - loans otherwise, which we can pay back once we're earning an income for ourselves.

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    3. @4.b. Yes, UW has in the past. To qualify for bursaries one must jump through multiple hoops and hope that the university makes good with their promises. During this time of waiting for funds the university restricts online resource access until your account is settled in full. One can seek an understanding from various departments in regards to not being allowed to access these resources, but it's up to the discretion of said department.

      I have been through this ordeal before. I simply went elsewhere for my studies.

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    4. 4c, that's not the same as being turned away. That's you choosing not to go through the required process to receive the funding you need.
      I've had the chance to chat with Dennis Huber (the CFO of the university) before; apparently UW typically has, on average, about $5 million set aside for financial aid each year that goes unspent.

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    5. 4.d Actually the university was very unwilling to give out these funds during the process. I was to choose to hope they would hold up their end of the deal or be stuck with payment for tuition that I would not be able to afford and have collections after me after that term. It's one thing to state the funds are available, it's quite another to actually give that money out.

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    6. 4e, I could argue your point there, but I don't actually want to be pedantic.

      There is a process to follow. However, you raise a relatively interesting point - the process itself, combined with the bureaucratic mind (which abhors the idea of letting go of money) is often a deterrent in itself.

      When the President speaks to the Board of Governors, he says "we have so much money set aside for financial aid, that I am proud to say we have never had to reject a student because of money-related reasons." And that's good enough for them, because they don't hear about how many students have so much trouble with the process that they look elsewhere.

      If there's a conversation that Feds should be having with the university admin, this is it.

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  5. Guess what else drives fees up? The costs of cleaning or repairs for vandalism and property damage. You idiots go around wrecking things all the time and then bitch and whine when you have to pay for it.

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  6. "I don't understand why I have to pay for things that I don't even use"

    This is what tea partiers and libertarians say when it comes to taxes.

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  7. Student refugee plan? WTF... that is worse than Temporary Foreign Workers

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    1. Apparently students voted something like 80% in favour for that in 2008. We have nobody to blame except for the students who came before us.

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    2. Those students aren't even here anymore. Measures like that should expire after 5 years.

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    3. 7b, by that logic, the Imprint, WPIRG, and GRT fees should also expire every 5 years, and require fresh approval in a referendum.

      ...I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing, btw. Just that if you're going to apply that statement to one fee, you have to apply it to them all.

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  8. 2 & 4a, what's Counseling Services cost us a year? What's their budget?

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    1. I don't know but they're growing fast. Complaints about them grow too, faster and more severe. Mismanaged?

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  9. International student laughs at your puny fees.

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    1. International students are also rich as fuck

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  10. LOL when kids find out that all the awesome stuff that's been around them and made their lives better since the day they were born has actually been paid for by other people. "I don't want to pay! I just want nice things!"

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