Tuesday, June 24, 2008

March Update

Lots of questions about the March Center rolling in. Here's the latest...

First off - apologies for the delay in getting this news out. There are a lot of logistical questions that I have been unsuccessfully trying to get answered. I'll tell you what I know (and don't know), and hopefully we'll have more info soon. If you have additional questions or well-sourced answers, post 'em in the comments, and I'll try to address them quickly.

Bottom line - March enrollment will remain MANDATORY for 2008-09 at a cost of $134/quarter.

The story - since the last post here (March 31), we (the Incidental Fee Task Force & Student Council) have argued vehemently the student's position that March should be both affordable and optional, and delivered a formal recommendation to the president detailing such a plan for next year. The plan was rejected by the president/provost, who then made a counter-offer that was accepted with stipulations. In short, the university agreed to reduce the collective student contribution from $750,000 to $650,000. It's not much, but it is a step in the right direction. The administration has pledged (but will need to be prodded) to continue to lower the student contribution as March becomes financially stable. The optimal situation would be an "opt-in" policy. An "opt-out" has been summarily rejected.

As far as I can tell, this policy will be in place for summer term.

For non-stipended students : the overall incidental fee will be $296/quarter, a slight reduction from this past year.

For stipended PhD students : we can start expecting bills soon.

The $1000/year raise($83+ change) should be in place for July as well. With a $536 yearly March fee, the total offset will be $464, fairly close to what we've been receiving.

It is not clear exactly how this will be billed - I assume they will arrive in the mail, much like late registration fees (if you've ever received one of those). I have not been told what the quarterly deadlines are. I do not know what the consequences of not paying are. Presumably, you will receive a hold on the following quarter's registration until it is paid.

If you legitimately pay your taxes - Yes, you will be paying on the $1000 increased stipend. However, you can treat the March fee as "mandatory tuition and fees", which are deductible.

For those who have been receiving "March membership renewal" emails and mailings - I also don't know how that will be handled. I would hope you'll be automatically enrolled, but (as I don't know when we'll see these bills) I don't know how the overlap will be handled.

Last year I was given the impression that students working on the West campus (or Providence) would be able to escape this fee. Multiple inquiries over the last two months have gone answered. I will keep trying - I do think it's possible, but it may be tough to do it for summer term.

That's a lot of "I don't know"s. More as soon as I hear it.

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