Fees: what changed, what didn’t, and why

Promo image for the Laptop Program

There’s been some chatter out there around this year’s student fees: did they go up? How much? And why? As always, the official source of fee information is the Financial Matters section of the OCAD U website. But I thought it would be helpful to explain the changes here. So here’s a quick run-down of fee changes for 2014-15:

1. Tuition

Tuition fees for both undergraduate and graduate students, domestic and international, went up 3 per cent this year at OCAD University. This is the maximum allowed by the provincial government (for domestic fees, which are regulated) and all Ontario universities typically increase fees to the maximum allowed. OCAD University tuition is the same, for example, as arts and science tuition at the University of Toronto.

Tuition fees represent about 50 per cent of the OCAD University budget, so when expenses go up – which they inevitably do due to inflation, salary contracts, utilities, etc. — we have only a few sources of revenue to meet those costs, and tuition is the biggest one. (I’m working on a longer post and infographic on this so stay tuned.)

2. Laptop Program (mobile computing fee, software fee, print fee)

This one’s a little more complicated. In 2014-15, OCAD U has moved to a universal laptop program, meaning all new students are required to have a laptop and pay the laptop fees. That means, for some returning students, laptop fees actually went down a bit, as we’re now able to spread the costs across more people, resulting in some savings for you. But some courses require a particular piece of software (e.g. Final Cut Pro), so when you register, it can trigger a fee. But generally we’re getting you that software at a lower rate than if you purchased it off the shelf, saving you money. My friends at IT have put together a thorough explanation of all of the laptop and software fees by program so if you want to check to ensure you’ve been charged the right fees, that’s the best place to start.

3. Ancillary Fees

Ancillary fees are compulsory fees for certain services and programs. We increased one of them this year: the Learning Resource Fee – which supports the Writing and Learning Centre and the Student Gallery – went up by $1 per credit this year. The increase went to the WLC to support increased programming there and was supported by the Student Union.

4. Student Union Fees

The Student Union made some changes to its fee structure this year that are quite complicated and best explained by them (you’ll get a message from them directly on this.) The net result was that their total fee went up from $61 per full-time student and $31 per part-time student to $70 for all students. The fee for for Xpace Cultural Centre, which is owned and operated by the Student Union, went up to $47 for all students.

5. Health + Dental Insurance Fees

Two changes were made here. First, the fees went up $4 for full-time single students as we added (in consultation with the Student Union) some improvements in coverage: including eye exams and travel insurance. Check the Student Benefits site for details. Second, we have applied the fees to students taking 3.0 credits and above (it used to be applied to students in 4.0 credits and up) so that those students would be covered by the plan. This fee is refundable if you have alternate coverage but you must apply to opt out by the September 27 deadline.

You may also notice that we’ve pushed out our fee payment deadline until September 10. (It used to be in August.) Most of you who have applied for OSAP by the recommended deadlines have your funds by then and will be able to meet the tuition payment deadline, avoiding any late/deferment fees 🙂

Also, since we’re talking about fees, and I know many of you use OSAP to help finance your education, here’s something many students don’t know. OSAP actually caps the amount you need to repay, no matter how much you borrow, and has a repayment assistant plan (RAP) for low income earners post-graduation. I could send you directly to the OSAP website for details but then I wouldn’t get to show you this awesome video the government put together to promote the RAP. Enjoy.

— @deannefisher