Calgary

Mount Royal University's new $250 course registration fee an 'obstacle,' says student

Mount Royal University's new course registration fee should have been communicated sooner as it now represents a financial "obstacle" for those registering for the fall/winter semesters, says one student.

Fee counts toward tuition and allows students to register for 2 semesters in advance

Tala Abu Hayyaneh, a policy studies student at Mount Royal University, says she's upset new course registration fees weren't communicated earlier to students. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Mount Royal University's new course registration fee should have been communicated sooner as it now represents a financial "obstacle" for those registering for the fall/winter semesters, says one student.

On Feb. 4,  the university announced students would now be able to register for a full year (two semesters) at once, but they'd need to pay a $125 deposit for each semester at the time of registration that would go toward their tuition.

Registration starts for continuing students in March and new students in April. The fee replaces a cancellation penalty that would be withdrawn from a student's tuition deposit if they chose not to continue with a course after signing up.

"The university wouldn't exist without us. So for them to be making decisions on our behalf and not include us in that conversation really disappoints me," said second-year student Tala Abu Hayyaneh

Hayyaneh said the ability to plan ahead was a huge relief, especially as courses "critical" to her graduation fill up quickly. But having just a few weeks to come up with the money was simply not enough.

"That's an obstacle in front of a lot of students," she said.

To come up with $125 for the fall, or $250 if you want to register for both semesters, which is the main perk of all this, is really tough for students with only a month's notice.-  Cordelia Snowdon , MRU students' association vice-president academic

Hayyaneh said she lives at home and contributes to her family's housing expenses, and she relies on student loans.

"Especially when you're coming from an immigrant family, and when my father is trying to do his PhD at the same time as me going to university and my mom is the only one working, it's a bit of a stretch for us to come up with the $250."

Through word of mouth she learned how to apply for a fee deferral, a process she described as tricky and requiring a significant amount of personal information, and she worries other students won't be able to do the same.

Cordelia Snowdon, the student association's vice-president academic, said others have voiced the same concerns about lack of communication.

"It definitely, ultimately was not taken as the benefit it is," she said.

"To come up with $125 for the fall, or $250 if you want to register for both semesters, which is the main perk of all this, is really tough for students with only a month's notice."

MRU communications director Andrea Ranson said it's important students realize the fee is not additional, and will count toward their tuition once it's paid in full. But she did say the situation was a learning opportunity for the school.

"Perhaps we should have done more communication … we'll do that for sure next time."

With files from Terri Trembath

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