By Isabelle Desilier
Starting the Fall Semester of 2015, a new fee mandatory fee has been added to student’s bill. A meal plan fee of $100 in which students had no say, or ability to remove unless it was for religious purposes.
After catching a little heat for not providing a meal plan in April 2013 by Campus Reporter Journalist Neal Falcone, SCCC made it a point to get one in order. In 2015, that plan was put into action. Students will are now paying $200 a year, $100 per semester of mandatory meal plan money that over ⅓ of students are not even using. Last semester, 1 in every 3 people had no idea that they were paying the new fee until they received a phone call toward the end of the fall semester informing them that if they do not use the meal plan money and are planning to transfer out for the spring 2016 semester, their $100 will disappear. However, should they be re-enrolled for the spring semester, it would be rolled over as well, but any leftover money will not be transferable onto the upcoming fall semester.
While many students appreciate the effort on part of the SCCC administration, they are furious with their lack of voice. “It’s not fair, you know? I mean, I’d be more open to it if I could opt out of it or, like, use it for different stuff- like text books at the bookstore, club activities, or something!” Casey Smith, current SCCC student Liberal Arts major, said.
This is the thought of many students. It is not the act the added fee, nor the idea of the meal plan, but the fact that the students, who already pay 54% over the agreed upon 33% for the continuation of the college as per stated in the NY Charter for Public Education in which students, the county and the state each pay ⅓ of total school costs. Students are now paying over half of the costs, and 21% more than agreed. To add insult to injury, student tuition has risen $180 more this past semester as well. So now, not only are students paying an extra $200 for a meal plan they cannot option out off without going through strenuous effort to fill out a form that states that they either have religious, medical or financial reasons as to not pay for the meal plan, they are also paying a $360 in the tuition itself.
“What they don’t realize is that while we may be able to pay for the tuition here- either through FAFSA or our own money- it doesn’t necessarily mean we have the means to afford that $100. For all they know, we are barely making ends meet as is.” Alyssa Riegel, Arts major, said. “At the very least, we should be able to say, ‘No we can’t afford this or we simply don’t want to eat what you provide.”
“It’s messed up. Why are we paying so much and having so little say? I mean, at least give us that money back!” Abigail Vilela, former SCCC student said.
The idea of students actually getting their money back at the end of the school year has in fact been murmured about, however, there is no definitive proof that this will occur. The rumor claims that after graduation or the end of the current school year, students will receive a check, much like the check they receive during the semester from FAFSA for money not used for tuition. They would receive said check in the mail with the amount of money not used in the meal plan. It is also rumored that the administration is considering for the next semester the “opt in or out” option for the meal plan fee with far less trouble and regulations.
Again, none of these two rumors have been confirmed. However, the belief still remains. SCCC did a disservice to its students despite its well intentions and instead of putting students at ease, it caused them more stress- especially those students who are paying out of pocket.
“The cost of obtaining a higher education is already too high for many students and their families. It is frustrating that rather than working to make education more affordable, Suffolk County Community College has increased tuition for full-time students by $180 and will now require a $200 mandatory meal plan fee for 12,000 students on select campuses…” Assemblyman Michael Montesano said, as the Long Island Exchange. We await the change.