Union Registrar’s $100 late fee up for debate

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By Benjamin Engle

Students who fail to finalize their new schedule for the term before the end of the first week of classes will face late fees imposed by the Union College Registrar. The late fee, which has been in place for approximately six years, is designed to encourage students to get their schedules confirmed in a timely manner. Students may be fined $100 if they either do not finalize their schedule by the end of the first week of the term or, for off campus and commuter students, if they do not verify that they have returned to campus by the third day of the term. The revenue generated by these late fees is not intended to make money for the Registrar’s office and instead goes into a general college fund.

Although the Registrar’s office will impose late fees if a student does not comply with these policies, Union College Registrar, Penelope Adey ‘90, states that there are always exceptions to the policies.

“We understand the problems [students] run into, including when faculty members are not available to give permission,” said Adey.

The Registrar’s office encourages students to finalize their schedules within the first week of the term because the office needs to comply with college and government regulations. Additionally, the Registrar needs to finalize how many students are enrolled at Union for government reports.

“We need to know how many students are enrolled, however, some students do not preschedule [the term before],” Adey said. “It takes me and the staff a lot of time to track students down.”

If students do not preregister for classes, are only registered for one class, or have not checked in, the Registrar checks with current professors, Residential Life, and reviews ID card usage to determine if a student is actively on campus.

The late fee, which was established at least six years ago with the approval of the Union College administration, was originally only $50; however, this amount did not receive much attention from students. Once the late fees were increased, Adey noticed a rise in the number of students getting everything settled by the end of the first week. Adey remembers students originally complaining of the late fees when they were first initiated but the Registrar’s office has since made various attempts to advertise the fees in order to avoid misunderstandings. The dates and late fees are published each year on the College’s calendar, website, and Academic Registrar course catalog. According to Adey, approximately 100 to 150 students are charged each academic year.

“The fee is to encourage students to get things done on time,” said Adey. “We rather not charge any student and have all students registered.”

Adey believes that the late fee policy is fair as other college departments, such as the library and financial departments, charge late fees or withhold preregistration sheets, respectively.

While the late fees have been in place for many years, many students have voiced their opinions on the matter and Student Forum is reviewing registration procedures.

“Honestly, I don’t think the cost of tuition is high enough. The school needs to milk every last dollar out of each student,”  said Steven McDermott ‘12.

“I think $100 is a lot of money, especially to charge college students during the first week when we really haven’t gotten a chance to explore the objectives of the course,’ Shelby Cuomo ‘13.

“If there must be a late fee, it should be pushed back to week two or three so we get a chance to know what the coursework entails,” Sam O’Connell ‘13.

“Student Forum has been considering some changes to the overall process of registration at Union and is looking forward to working with the registrar to make those improvements,” said Student Forum President Andrew Churchill ‘13.

Currently, the Registrar’s office is working on creating a check-in website where students can update information since the office currently depends on other offices to determine whether students are on campus.

Despite the late fees, Adey encourages students to talk to her before the end of the first week if they have a problem finalizing their schedules. “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t charge anything,” Adey said. “As long as students come to us, explain their situations, and make a good faith effort, there will be exceptions.”

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