Automatic fees revealed as optional in tuition bill fine print

While paying her son's tuition for the upcoming semester, one mother of a Geneseo student noticed certain "optional fees" automatically included in Geneseo's tuition bill: an alumni fee of $17.50, a performance fee of $3, and a Health Services fee of $50.

Each of these optional charges are detailed in fine print on the college bill underneath the "Meal Plan Selection" along with all of the mandatory undergraduate fees. Next to their descriptions is a note about who to contact in the event that a student should wish to be refunded.

The largest of the refundable costs is the Health Services fee, which accompanies a mandatory health fee of $156. This additional charge is to reduce the costs of services and facilities that are not used by every student on campus, including medications, lab testing, operating the sexual health clinic, and physical examinations. In order to obtain a refund for this money, a form available at the Health Center must be filled out within the first two weeks of the semester.

According to Patty Hamilton-Rodgers, director of Alumni Relations, the alumni fee, which was implemented in 1983, is used to fund several different endeavors, some of which are controlled by the Undergraduate Alumni Association. The UAA projects include a coupon book, externship programs, and a seminar on survival, all of which are only available to students who have paid the alumni fee. The money also provides each student automatic entry to the Alumni Association. In order to be reimbursed, the Alumni Relations Office needs to be contacted, in writing, before the second Friday of the semester.

Although these fees, totaling $70.50, may seem insignificant, some students question the ethics of automatically collecting money for payments that are optional for students.

"I think it's unfair," said junior Andrew Hockenbery. "I know I had no idea about this, and I don't think many other students do either, it kind of feels like I'm being cheated."