U distance fees fair

Higher education has been changing dramatically over the past decade. The concept has broadened to encompass not only traditional students, but a host of others who are not typical high school graduates. Single mothers, immigrants and professionals wanting to continue their education are returning to colleges and universities in record numbers and consequently changing the face of campuses.

To accommodate these students, universities have broadened their outreach by adding evening and weekend classes on site and distance learning opportunities via the Internet or mail correspondence. But an ongoing debate has arisen among distance learning students and their schools: should these students pay student service fees even though they never set foot on the campus? The logical answer is no, and fortunately the University of Minnesota realizes that it is indeed unfair to force distance learners to pay for services such as the campus connector. However, the University is not in the majority; some universities and colleges require distance students to pay for services they can’t benefit from. Not only is this practice wrong but it can cause students to abandon their studies due to the burdensome extra costs.

Undue financial burden is surely not in the interest of the student or the school; distance learning students don’t consider geographic location when choosing a school, and can choose from a variety of prices and programs available worldwide. Students should be careful to avoid taking distance courses from an institution that will charge them excessive fees. Minnesota’s program offers over 125 courses and enrolls students from all fifty states and many foreign countries.

Traditional students expect to pay the extra costs that are part of the campus experience. At the University, students pay service fees for the perks of college life: $6.12 for the Minnesota Daily, $27.48 for the rec center, $42.42 for the student union, $93.32 for Boynton Health Service and a slew of others for a grand total of $267.00 per semester. Yet distance students should expect to pay the technology and course fees that make Internet and correspondence classes possible. The University of Minnesota understands the dynamics of the changing student body, and recognizes that distance students should not pay for services that geography prevents them from using. Universities that continue to unfairly charge students for services they are not receiving should look to our school as a model or expect to see declining enrollment in their overpriced distance courses.