More than 4,600 students have signed a petition asking UCF to remove any excess fees from summer’s tuition cost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior computer engineering major and creator of the petition Adriana McCabe said it is unfair students are asked to pay for things they do not have the opportunity to use.
The petition asks the university to remove fees — like technology and athletic fees — and states that students that will not be receiving such benefits from the fees during the remote learning period.
The technology fee is used to enhance instructional technology resources, and the athletic fee supports intercollegiate athletics, according to UCF’s website.
“These charges amount to several hundred dollars, and UCF should help their students in this time of need, instead of overcharging them for continuing their education during a pandemic [that has] left many of us struggling to pay bills or find housing,” McCabe wrote in the petition description.
In the petition’s description, McCabe said UCF should help students during this time.
“I need to take out loans for school, so it’s kind of infuriating that I’m being charged for things I can’t use and it’s just wasting money,” McCabe said in an interview with Knight News. “Especially in this pandemic when we’re all struggling to pay bills or get another source of income.”
At UCF, the fees associated with earning a degree in a traditional program and an online program have different fee schedules.
Online degree seeking students at UCF do not pay the health fees, athletic fees, technology fees, activity and service fees, or transportation access fees, according to UCF Online’s website. These costs are waived, but online students pay an additional $18 per credit hour in a distance learning course fee.
UCF spokeswoman Rachel Williams said the distance learning fee should not apply to any classes that were moved to an online format as a result of COVID-19.
“The distance-learning fee applies to course sections that were originally supposed to be offered online,” Williams said in a Monday email. “It helps to cover the costs of the technology support and development that are critical in our efforts to help faculty offer high-quality online courses.”
McCabe said she was referred to the UCF Student Accounts Services with her questions — the office informed her the transportation access fees for the summer semester, and material and supply fees on courses that are not receiving benefits of these fees during the remote learning period, will be waived.
Student Account Services said the waiver for the transportation access fee will be posted on a students’ fee invoice for summer semester.
All other tuition and fees will be billed as usual, Student Account Services told McCabe. The office said fees support year-round services for students.
“I understand that we’re still using the health fees and a couple of other fees, but I just hope they do the right thing and charge us for what we’ll actually be able to use,” McCabe said.
Students across the state have sought legal action against their universities and the Florida Board of Governors — the governing board overseeing the 12 schools in the State University System — for the return of these kinds of fees and tuition costs from the spring term after campuses closed due to threats of COVID-19.
University of Florida student Anthony Rojas filed a class-action lawsuit against the Florida Board of Governors earlier this month. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of students enrolled in state universities who paid for on-campus services they did not receive.
Rojas claims the Board of Governors’ actions to not refund students for unused services and to keep fees is unfair and unlawful, the lawsuit states.
For now, UCF encourages students to use virtual services that are funded by these fees including telehealth visits with physicians, telecounseling visits with counselors, peer tutoring and online workouts.