Compulsory ancillary fees for colleges revealed

Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities releases binding policy directive for tuition and ancillary fees for Ontario colleges

Updated April 3 with additional information on technology fees and the Canadian Federation of Students—Ontario.

The provincial government has released the final binding policy directive on tuition and ancillary fees.

Ancillary fees fund services such as student athletics, healthcare and building costs, as well as the Student Association (SA) which funds The Dialog, and other services such as the food bank, the Community Action Centre, legal aid, and student clubs.

Services that do not meet the requirements to be funded under compulsory ancillary fees will have to be optional, allowing students to opt-out online at the time of billing.

“The Ontario Government has framed their initiative as being about choice, when in reality, they are making decisions for us,” said Nour Alideeb chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario in a statement. “With these changes scheduled to come into effect come September, students will see a drastic decrease in the quality of their education.”

Fees which bundled multiple services together, such as the current SA fee, will no longer be allowed. Instead, the college is expected to itemize the individual functions for which the fees are charged.

Compulsory ancillary fees are split into two subsections: program ancillary fees which are compulsory for students in applicable programs, and institutional ancillary fees which are compulsory for all students.

The institutional fees which can be mandatory under the policy directive are as follows:

  • Athletics and recreation.
  • Career services.
  • Student buildings.
  • Health and counselling.
  • Academic support.
  • Student ID cards.
  • Student achievements and records.
  • Financial aid office.
  • Campus safety.
  • Student transit passes for institutions with pre-existing transit agreements.

Career services that can have a compulsory fee in the document include career counselling, information sessions, job fairs, job boards and job placement.

Spaces and facilities that host student activities and services that are not otherwise supported through the government operating and capital grants can be funded under compulsory ancillary fees.

Facilities that are restricted to specific students, such as student residences, cannot be supported through compulsory ancillary fees according to the document.

On-campus access to health professionals for basic health care, mental health and counselling can have a compulsory fee.

Services necessary to support academic accommodations and achievement cannot be supported as they are considered to be services that are normally paid out of operating revenues, according to the document.

Academic supports such as peer tutoring and writing centres can be funded under compulsory ancillary fees, according to the document.

Technology fees that are part of program and delivery would be considered a tuition-related cost and not eligbale for an ancillery fee, according to Tanya Blazina, a spokesperson for the ministry. Tuition will be cut 10 per cent for domestic students in the fall 2019 term.

Blazina added that additional technology fees that provide support for academic success may be considered mandatory fees.

The document stated that the administrative costs of producing documents such as diplomas and transcripts, as well as costs related to convocation may be charged as a compulsory ancillary fee. However no ancillary fees may be charged for the general administrative costs of maintaining student records.

Fees that provide enhanced financial aid office services were deemed compulsory. The document suggested the development of a student-facing application or hotline that helps students navigate and monitor the status of their financial aid.

Fees supporting the general operating costs of the financial aid office, including the cost of bursaries or other financial-aid rewards are not allowed to be compulsory as they are considered tuition-related fees, according to the document.

Campus safety programs, such as Safewalk at George Brown College (GBC), and sexual assault prevention can be funded by compulsory ancillary fees.

Health and dental plans will not change for GBC students, as they are charged on a compulsory basis with an option to opt-out for students who have pre-existing coverage.

Transit passes that were already funded through compulsory ancillary fees prior to Jan. 17 can be funded under compulsory ancillary fees for the duration of the agreement and any subsequent renewals of the agreement. All other transit passes may only be implemented on an opt-out basis.

The TTC has previously said that a U-Pass must be a mandatory fee paid by all students for it to be viable.

The document stated that program ancillary fees can include fees for travel and accommodation for overnight field trips and field placement, although compulsory ancillary fees cannot be charged for salaries and benefits or for the travel and accommodation of faculty.

These compulsory fees also fund program-specific learning materials that the student keeps after completion, materials that are used in the production of items which becomes the property of the student, and fees for materials in which the college acts as a broker for a vendor providing material to students (such as leasing out laptop computers).

The document stated that co-op programs can also charge compulsory fees in respect to the cost of administering co-op placements and related services.

The Dialog contacted the college, the SA, and minister of training, colleges, and universities to comment but they did not immediately respond by press time.

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Compulsory ancillary fees for colleges revealed