Student Organization president weighs in on new late fees

Emily Cubilete, our first elected female Student Organization President. Photo: Emily Cubilete

Emily Cubilete, our first elected female Student Organization president. Photo: Emily Cubilete

By Rebecca Panico | Published May 18, 2016

Emily Cubilete, the newly elected Student Organization president, said the Board of Trustees’ May 9 decision to increase late fees and the cost to enroll in a tuition payment plan will “help students” once Kean takes over payment services.

More: Being a broke Kean student just got more expensive

The vote comes at a time when the university is looking to bring payment services in-house, rather than through Tuition Management Systems (TMS), which allows students to make monthly tuition payments at afford.com. That information was not in the Trustees May 9 resolution and was only discovered upon further inquiry from The Tower.

TMS currently charges a $35 fee on late monthly payments. The Trustees vote now allows the university to collect $50 up to four times a semester – or $200 – if a student owes more than $200 to the university. These fees will start July 1.

Students can apply for a one-time late fee waiver if they request it, the resolution said. Cubilete said this waiver, which TMS never offered, will benefit students. What’s more, the university will give students more leeway with payment deadlines, she said.

“So let’s just say if you don’t pay your tuition on time on the first [of the month], but you pay it on the second, you’re not going to be charged that late fee right away,” she said of Kean’s newly planned system.

Cubilete officially took office as Kean University’s first female Student Organization president on May 1, though major seats in both Student Org. and Graduate/Part-Time Student Council remain vacant. Cubilete said learned of the new late fee deadlines after speaking with university officials like the Student Org. director and some Trustees.

TMS currently charges a $25 enrollment fee. The Trustees vote also increased the cost to enroll in a tuition payment plan from the university to $40 starting in the spring 2017 semester. Cubilete recognized this increase, but said that overall, Kean students will benefit.

“I feel like all this is actually going to help students because the simple fact of all the benefits that’s coming with it,” Cubilete said, referring to the switch to an in-house service from Kean. “This is for students that are just late every time with their tuition. This is not impacting every student, unless you’re always late with your tuition [and] if you are in that payment plan.”

Students, she said, will now get to deal directly with the university and not TMS representatives, claiming that students will not have to wait on hold for long periods of time when they need information.

Two student representatives on the Board – Abby Gallego and Christian Meyers, a “non-voting” alternate – declined to speak to The Tower at the May 9 Trustees meeting when the fees were passed. Gallego said she didn’t vote on the fees since she isn’t allowed to vote on “legal” matters.

Cubilete said that although neither student representatives voted on the late fees at the last Trustees meeting, their voices are still “being heard” when they sit in on committees before the Board votes.

The Trustees vote came just two weeks after a state Comptroller’s report looking into student fees suggested that Kean, William Paterson (WPU), and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) create clearer justification for increasing fees beyond Trustees bylaws and resolutions. Kean was the only university that declined to comply with that suggestion, stating that Trustees resolutions were already clear enough.

The Trustees’ May 9 resolution that created higher late fees omitted several important facts, such as when those fees would start and that Kean is seeking to do away with TMS.

Cubilete declined to comment on issue of transparency which was raised in the Comptroller’s report or the lack of information in the May 9 resolution since she was not present at the Trustees meeting. Cubilete added that she would “absolutely” like to come to future meetings.

Kean will hold its next public tuition hearing on June 23, where students can discuss tuition rates for the upcoming academic year. WPU and TCNJ held theirs in April. The next Trustees meeting will be June 27.

Rebecca Panico may be reached at panicore@kean.edu. Follow The Tower on Twitter@KeanTower. Find The Tower on Facebook.

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