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Online vs. In-Campus Student Fees:

Are We Getting Ripped Off?

By: Yassmine Zeguir


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With the majority of students online this semester, there has been some skepticism on where exactly our money is going. After talking to a clerk from the finance department as well as Jason Annahatak, a member of the Student Services, it became very clear that most students have some major misconceptions. 

Unlike student fees, tuition fees only apply to certain individuals. As Quebec residents, all full-time students are entitled to free tuition, meaning they don’t pay for the actual classes. This changes if you are a part-time student or an international student, in which case you pay a certain amount per hour of education you get. $174 of student fees, however, are still paid by everyone. Here they are, broken down: $20 registration fees, $25 mandatory instructional fees, $100 for student services, $19 for the Dawson Student Union, and a $10 fee that covers a voluntary contribution to the Dawson Foundation, which we have the possibility to withdraw from. 

All fees are set by the Ministry of Education. The only fee that will justify a price difference between two public CEGEPs are Student Union fees, which are decided within each school. Annahatak confirmed that Dawson’s default fee for our Union has been set to $19, and any increase from that must be explained and accepted by the College Board of Governors.

“I do feel like the prices could be lowered, especially during this pandemic where we do not have access to the school grounds,

The $100 of student services fees set by the ministry is used to cover a variety of services, such as the health and counselling as well as financial aid, which we all still have access to online through Omnivox. This fee also covers student activities such as Campus Life & Leadership activities, para-academic activities, athletics activities, the Corn Roast, and Spring BBQ.

However, a good portion of students do not understand why such a fee is mandatory. Students cannot participate in activities such as corn roasts now that the pandemic is here and most of them feel discouraged to try any para-academic activities because of COVID-19. Counselling or academic advising services are out of the picture for some students, as they feel awkward about doing them through a call, and sports are cancelled in light of Montreal’s red alert. “I feel like it’s a bit unfair since not every student wants or needs those types of services,” says Angela Arevalo-Marino, a third semester Literature student. She explains firmly that many students already have health insurance and some already have professional help from therapists outside of the school. “I do feel like the prices could be lowered, especially during this pandemic where we do not have access to the school grounds,” she says. Arevalo-Marino adds that students like her are required to pay $130 per month during a regular semester for transportation, and that she pays on average $200 on books per semester.

We still have access to our services, even if they are harder to reach, meaning we’re not totally getting ripped-off. However, most students feel like they should have the right to opt out of services in order to make semesters more affordable, especially in times where every single penny could make the difference. 


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