By: Kate Luce
Students may have noticed a charge named “Mandatory Fee” of $323.91 for full-time students taken out and put back into their accounts on Sept. 1.
According to Judy Houston, associate bursar, this fee takes into account distance fees, technology fees, laboratory fees, repair and rehabilitation fees and the student activity fee. The fee is combined into one, which is dependent on how many credit hours one is taking. Last year, these fees totaled $365.98, and with the majority of students online and this semester ending online, this amount reflects it.
Students also may have noticed that this amount was taken out, renamed, and put back into their account. According to Houston, IU Bloomington made this decision only because they did not like how it was named.
Some students felt confused and even misled with this fee.
“I found out the fee was taken off because a friend asked me if my tuition had dropped. When I checked my bursar account, it had decreased by $323. My friend and I were excited but confused. I noticed that the amount I had due on September 10 was $323 less than the total amount due, so I emailed the bursar. They told me that the fee was removed because it was misnamed, ‘Combined Mandatory Fee’, so it was added back with a different name, ‘Combined Mandatory Fee >6’, and the amount would be due October 10,” Keeley Higley, B.S. Health Science, said.
“I understand that an institution needs money to run. It’s life even if we don’t like it. However, the pure label of “mandatory fees” seems a bit inconsiderate. After raising tuition, only marking our $160 parking pass to $136 even though we go far less time, and charging distance education fees, why does every student have to pay hundreds of dollars without an explanation other than mandatory? A pandemic understandably throws everyone off, but I feel that the charge alone is vague, and there should’ve been more preparation when handling students’ finances. We are struggling too,” Autumn Johnson, B.A. Marketing, said.
These students wish they were informed of the fee. The “Mandatory Fee” is also due on October 10, rather than September 10.
“It seems extra terrible that that money is due in October, because every time you pay the bursar, there’s a service fee to use your online banking. That means that people who pay the September amount will end up paying the service fee twice when they learn they still owe $323 in October,” Higley said.
While this occurrence may have caused some confusion, some are frustrated with financial aid in general.
Johnson says she has had an issue with receiving a scholarship. After doing all that was possible, the scholarship never showed up on her account.
“I received the email for my refund and noticed it wasn’t more than usual despite me receiving another scholarship, and I checked my bursar’s account to notice the scholarship I’ve been getting since 2018 just wasn’t on there. I emailed the bursar’s office and was told that it’d take a day. The next day, I was told it’d take 7-10 business days, and an hour after that, I was told that the bursar has nothing to do with it. After contacting the office of financial aid, it got posted to my award summary but not my bursar account,” Johnson said.
While this scholarship was never posted, another scholarship came through without a problem.
“I received an additional scholarship following last spring semester due to academic performance, and that scholarship was added, but somewhere along the way, my main scholarship I’ve gotten every semester since 2018 was missing. That’s a sizable portion of my aid, and it comes from donors who I’m sure want their donations to be applied properly,” Johnson added.
She was told that it would be in her account last Tuesday, but it turns out it was not there. She called the Director of Financial Aid, who was able to get her scholarship posted into her account.
While she is not the only student who has faced issues with scholarships, these issues appear almost every year.
If a student has any questions with their bursar account or financial aid. They are encouraged to call or email the office of financial aid and scholarships to get help regarding their issues at (574) 520-4357.