Some part-time students at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) are feeling blindsided by a policy change that’s more than doubling their tuition.
Students enrolled in three courses per semester, or with nine credit hours or more, now have to pay full-time rates. The decision was released on Aug. 14.
Chris Kim, a fourth-year software engineering student, says he received an email from the university explaining the changes. As a result, his tuition went from $3,500 to $9,200.
“I was in big trouble when I (saw) that email, because like $4,000 or $5,000, that much money in three weeks, how can a student like prepare?” said Kim.
Dr. George MacLean, vice-president of academic at UNB, says the university let students know as earlier as they could.
“We recognize that was just a short time ago, but that was as early as we possibly could with the policy change in place, and that’s why we reached out to each of them independently to say if you have an issue with this or if you have questions to contact us and we can work with you,” said MacLean.
Kim is part of the 6 per cent of students that are affected by the change, which was prompted by a committee examination of tuition rates on both campuses.
“This change does effect international students more, as we do not have access to a lot of the government grants and loans and there are not as many scholarships available on campus for international students,” said Raven-Lee Mills, president of UNB’s International Student Society.
The university says this policy change aligns financial and academic guidelines for what constitutes a full-time student.
“This policy now is in line with every other university, so regardless of where they’d be this would be the policy. It’s just now that we recognize that we need to make that change,” said MacLean.
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Kim had to change his course load due to the change. He says he’s taking four courses this semester and two in the winter term.
“At least in winter term I’m considered part time, but still I need to pay the full time for the fall,” said Kim.
Kim says he’s struggling financially and this policy change is causing him stress.
“I didn’t have that (money) right now, so I’m just like finding a way to get it right now and looking for ways,” said Kim
Mills says this policy change should have been announced to all students and not sent in an email.
“This could have a significant effect on students especially international students who are facing many issues such as culture shock or just regular class stressors, adding this additional financial burden so close to the start of the semester can really affect them,” said Mills
Students that now have full-time status have health benefits, access to athletic facilities and tuition rebates through the provincial government, as well as a higher deduction on income taxes.
Kim is optimistic he will find a way to pay his tuition before classes start the first week of September, but thinks the university should give students a year to adapt to financial changes.