Clear 83° | 7 day forecast

Friday, August 29, 2014 | Last updated: 9:08pm

New fee bursaring bubbles



You’ve already signed the petition. You’re already pissed.

The damn Bursar’s Office isn’t going to accept your credit card anymore.

Beginning May 5, the Bursar’s Office is outsourcing all credit and debit payments to the ominously named (and ominously regarded) Nelnet, in an effort to avoid the fees it’s always had to pay to process these types of student deposits.

Now, it’s passing the buck to us and calling it convenience at a 2.5 percent nonrefundable rate.

The financial struggle of student-hood isn’t just a myth, and every extra increase adds to the burden.

It’s especially troubling when news of these added weights arrive, without warning or justification, in emails labeled with the spammy heading “IMPORTANT.”

It’d be nice to have a say in what will become our debt.

The powers-that-be seem to be telling us that when we were allowed to enjoy these modern amenities called credit cards, we were living in a bubble of privilege.

But Mom, look: Other Pac-12 schools, like ASU, are bursting it. They don’t allow those types of payments, as the Financial Services Office is happy to remind us.

Usually we strive to be ahead of the Pac, but in this situation I’m sure that if the other members jumped off a bridge, the UA would too. Although, the school would make sure the student body paid for an “exhilaration fee” as we plummeted.

We’re told we were lucky to be allowed credit card payments for so long. We’re still lucky, because we have the convenient option to pay online, should we choose to shill out some extra cash.

In our Feb. 26 article on the increase, Mark McGurk, the associate vice president of Financial Services, told the Daily Wildcat that it’s important for students to know this isn’t a new fee. But for us, it is.

Apparently, we’ve always played a part in the resolution of the $3 million user fee debt through our tuition. But now, though our tuition isn’t decreasing, we’ll also have to pay an extra fee for the right to make credit card payments. We’re not lucky; we’re paying more money for the same services. Any other rhetoric is misleading.

The other part of the user fee cash came from “other revenues” of the university, the continued use of which led to diminishing programs and services for all students, according to Financial Services. McGurk said that the strained university budget should be used for these student benefits, like components of the Never Settle plan, and not for paying user fees.

But apparently, as potential participants in the programs, our non-institutional budgets can be sacrificed, no problem. We didn’t receive $439 million in grants and gifts in 2012, nor are we sitting on last year’s $207 million endowment from the state — not to mention the millions in tuition.

“Convenience” in the college-industrial system that has taken hold is geared toward the system and away from the cogs; it’s the system’s fuel. The system can tell us that the method by which we pay thousands of dollars to an institution benefits us too much. Any and all negotiations with this machine are on its terms.

Sure, we can use eChecks or cough up some cold hard cash and walk our asses over to the Bursar’s Office to avoid those extra hundreds. But what does that say about our threshold? How long are we going to be treated like mere consumers at the whims of the market? It’s not a label we have to accept.

If this were the ’60s, we’d probably all be chained to the Administration building by now, or at least sitting in. We’d demand to know why, what, how. We’d demand transparency. We’d demand partnership.

Like all who plug their ears and refuse to listen, the UA needs to be spoken to a little more loudly.

Now we also need to ask: Is there really no room in the budget for the 21st century?

The university cannot afford to pay user fees anymore.

We can’t afford to listen to any explanation of “why not” if it doesn’t begin and end with “for the students.” Otherwise, we might as well get the chains and start a round of “Kumbaya.” It’s gonna be a long haul.

— Katelyn Kennon is a junior studying journalism and creative writing. Follow her @DailyWildcat


Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Arizona Daily Wildcat.

Comments powered by Disqus

ALSO ON THE WILDCAT MORE STORIES >>