In a sudden reversal, the Academic Excellence and Success fee will not be charged for the fall 2011 semester but will be for the spring semester, according to a message to all students on SOLAR early this morning.
The fee, which was $37.50 for each semester, was implemented after the passing of the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge grant application, which totaled $35 million.
“The next bill you receive for the spring 2012 semester will reflect the new charges,” the message reads. “We regret any inconvenience this has caused, and if a payment has already been made, the University will implement a credit balance to the Spring semester bill.”
Stony Brook University students were alerted Dec. 15 of a $75 Academic Excellence and Success Fee, half of which will be charged for the fall semester and the other half for the spring. It must be paid in full by Jan. 15.
The fee, which will help the university with resources, such as additional grants and scholarships and strengthen academic programs, comes on the heels of the announcement on Dec. 14 of a $150 million grant to the university from the Simons Foundation. However, according to University Spokeswoman Lauren Sheprow, the two are separate.
“They’re unrelated,” Sheprow said. “It was a fee that was always reported in the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant presented in May for Stony Brook.”
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill for the NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant plan on Dec. 14, which is why students were officially notified of it on Thursday.
The executive summary of Stony Brook’s NYSUNY 2020 Challenge Grant plan mentions this fee.
“…Plus a $75 academic excellence fee increase each year for a five-year period,” as stated in the grant. “This plan fosters economic growth and creates jobs while increasing student access to a high-quality, affordable education.”
This new fee seems to have drawn the ire of some students. Jose Rivera, a student at Stony Brook, started a petition on change.org called “Academic Excellence an Success Fee in Stony Brook University: Not to apply the fee.” Rivera could not be reached for comment.
One student who signed the petition commented on it saying, “This school just received $150 million donation from a billionaire and we, students have to pay an extra fee for tuition?”
Mark Maloof, president of the undergraduate student government, said he is not trying to stir up the student body, but he would like to redirect their emotions.
“There is a reason to be upset, but I don’t think that students are upset for the right reasons,” said Maloof. “To be mad that Jim Simons gave us $150 million and then we got a tuition increase doesn’t make sense. He didn’t give us that money to pay the bills. He gave it to expand the university. He has every right to and we have to respect his wishes.”
He goes on to say, “I don’t have a problem with enacting a fee. The name is not the best. But, we are doing students a disservice by charging them in the spring for a fee that was intended to be used in the fall. The students are retroactively paying but cannot retroactively receive benefits.”