When students log on to OASIS and pull up tuition charges in their account summaries, they expect to see a breakdown of the individual tuition and fees they pay.
Instead, students are met with a vague laundry list of fees, many of which are simply titled “Tuition.”
Not only is this nontransparent on the part of the university, it prevents students from holding the university accountable for what is perhaps the biggest issue to students.
Imagine going to a grocery store and, after having the items rung up, the cashier hands over a list that reads, “Solids: $45, Liquids: $38, Nonperishables: $13,” et cetera.
How would one be able to tell that the item the store said would cost $4.50 actually cost that much or that no items were accidentally charged twice?
Essentially, the tuition and fees billing system on OASIS raises the same sort of questions.
The fact that students cannot tell what exactly their money is paying for or where their money is going also keeps students uninformed and uninvolved.
Currently, a USF student taking a 15-credit-hour course load is paying about $768 per semester in student fees toward Athletics, Wellness, Health and a number of student-support services.
When committees such as the Local Fee Committee or the Student Government (SG) Senate A&S Recommendation Committee dole out millions of dollars collected through student fees, these decisions are made with little or no input from the student body at large.
Corey Ulloa, an SG senator and member of the Local Fee Committee, said there hasn’t been a single student who has shown up to the committee deliberations to voice an opinion about proposed student fee increases this year.
Perhaps the blame falls on student apathy, but another factor might be that students have become disconnected from the process because the university has kept the information on where students’ money is going locked up behind a Cashier’s Office help desk or an obscure Web page in the depths of the Office of the General Counsel’s website.
After an inquiry by The Oracle into the transparency of student fees on OASIS, the Controller’s Office placed a link to a breakdown on its Tuition and Fees page Thursday, still three clicks away from the homepage.
If, as it proclaims on its main page, the Controller’s Office aims to provide “prompt, accurate, and courteous” accounting services for students, providing an accurate and transparent breakdown of tuition and fees on OASIS might serve the best interest of both the Controller’s Office and students.
But, as Assistant Vice President and Controller Jennifer Condon pointed out, maybe telling students what they are actually paying for and where their money is going might just “overload” them.
However, having a more informed and involved student body outweighs the concern that some students might get confused about a detailed, itemized list of charges, especially when students have a number of resources available on campus to help them through the billing process.
The university should provide students with a transparent and detailed list of their tuition and fee charges directly on their OASIS accounts and not force students to work to navigate a website or accounting office to find out how the university is spending their money.
When the university hides that information from students, it sends the message that students aren’t capable of understanding or being involved in how their university operates.