Graduate students ignored in tuition and fees due date change

After hearing students’ concerns, University administrators are waiving some late fees.

Blair Emerson

University of Minnesota officials recently shifted the due dates for tuition and fees payments, irking some graduate students who rely on the old deadlines.

The new dates for fall semester payments come before graduate assistants receive their first paychecks from the University, and although administrators are working to fix the problem, some graduate students are upset with how the school decided on the change.

“This is a stunning example of the administration completely ignoring a third of its students,” said Keaton Miller, a Council of Graduate Students executive board member.

A group of graduate students met with administrators in University President Eric Kaler’s office last week to discuss how the new dates don’t correlate with their paydays. The administrators relayed the concerns to the Office of Student Finance, which responded by waiving the $30 late fee and the $35 installment fee for some graduate assistant positions. The positions that qualify are yet to be determined.

But some graduate students aren’t satisfied with the temporary fix and say they should have been consulted before administrators made any changes to the dates.

While deciding on the new dates, Kris Wright, director of the Office of Student Finance, said officials mainly consulted faculty members in undergraduate education and didn’t focus on the Graduate School.

“We’re a very large institution, and it can be very difficult,” she said. “This has been a learning process for me.”

She said the University made the change to match the other campuses’ due dates and help prevent students from registering for classes if they owe the school money. 

Sally Kohlstedt, acting vice provost and dean of graduate education, said many graduate students already struggle to pay their fees and rely heavily on their University paychecks to help with those costs.

“I think they just didn’t see the problem because [the due date change] wouldn’t have been a problem for undergraduates,” she said.

This school year, graduate students paid anywhere from about $600 to more than $1,400 in fees per semester, varying by department and program.

Kohlstedt said many faculty members echoed the students’ concerns.

Linda Lindeke, a School of Nursing professor, said graduate students shouldn’t have to face additional financial burdens, like the due date change, because many already struggle with school expenses.

“Why are we making things more difficult for the students that contribute hugely to the mission of the University?” she said.

Wright said she plans to work more closely with the Graduate School in the future to ensure they’re included in discussions regarding due dates and the billing system.

“I very much appreciate their concerns, and we really do want to address it,” she said.