Monday, September 1, 2014
Opt-Out of Extras (and their Fees)
In September, you are expected to pay for many college and university fees. To ensure that most students will pay most fees and therefore bring their financial support to different organisations o campus, these are ‘bundled’ in one large fee. In order to not pay all of these, you need to opt-out AFTER you have already paid, and then you get a reimbursement. If students were asked to opt-in and pay extra fees, most would not do it.
So what fees are mandatory and which ones are optional? Not all the fees you disagree or won’t use the service of are optional. This is mostly because to get some of the deals the university obtains for students are only valid if the entire student population pays the reduce fee. This is the case with public transportation: if your university has a public transportation fee, whether you use public transportation or not, you have the pay the fee. However, many are optional, and you can get a list of optional fees from your university website in most cases. For example, here is a list of opt-out-able McGill fees: http://www.mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-fees/fee-descriptions . The opt-out period is typically ONLY during a week or two in September and the same in January (for students who were not present in the Fall term); this makes sense as you should make up your mind and not use a service and then change your mind and opt-out. The organisations or departments your fees support also need to be able to work with a budget! At McMaster’s, for the 2014-2015 school year, the additional fees (not all of them opt-outable) add up to slightly more than $1000! That includes many mandatory and expensive fees, such as bus ($138.65), student services fee ($132.60), as well as optional ones such as dental insurance.
What are typical fees you can opt-out of? A series of low fees that support different causes and projects around campus – for example, expect a few $2 to $5 fees for a green energy engineering project, the student food bank, a mature student support group, an on-campus daycare, etc. These are small fees that add up though – but they are also a nice way to contribute. Your $2 may not seem like much, but when it adds up with all the student body’s $2, it’s a large part of that group’s funding. Other fees are much more personal, such as the dental insurance coverage, as well as the medical (read : medication; your medical services are free in Canada) coverage. At the university of Regina, these two combined (dental and medical) add up to $192.74 for 12 month coverage (Sept 1st to Aug. 31st) (http://ursu.ca/services/ursu_health_plan). Many students, however, are covered by their parents’ insurance until they are 18 as children, and until 25 if they are full-time students. So, please spend 10-15 minutes reviewing your parents’ policy to see if you really need to pay almost two hundred dollars to get something you already have.
So just before classes start, see if you are eligible for your parents’ medical and dental insurance (if they have some) so you know if you can opt-out of these at school. Also look up the list of opt-out fees and decide if you want to pay for these or not, and if you want to opt-out, write down the dates of the opt-out period.