A USF student was recently charged for on-campus housing despite never living in a dorm on campus this semester.
Melissa Moreno, a freshman chemistry major, was notified in August that she owed the university $3,750 for an on-campus dorm room that she never intended to live in, according to a Nov. 22 report from 10News WTSP.
The mishap took place when Moreno indicated that she was interested in on-campus housing on her initial online application, which was not her intention.
A simple mistake made in an online application is not just cause for such exorbitant fees. This story is a clear indicator that there should be additional safeguards in place in order to ensure that students are not being overcharged.
After 10News reached out to the university, Moreno’s fees dropped to $1,500. This adjustment shows that the university obviously felt that the initial fine was too high.
For some students, online applications can be confusing, especially if no one is there to walk them through the application process. There should be a system in place that notifies the applicant of any potential mistakes.
Perhaps a good solution to preventing these potential mistakes would be to increase clarity on housing during the orientation process. Counselors should be available to discuss with students their housing options and should clarify their current financial commitments to the university.
Additionally, tuition is due after the first week of classes of any given semester. If a student has not arrived at student housing during that first week, there could have been some type of miscommunication between the student and the university.
For many families, an unexpected fine of $3,750, or even $1,500, can have a profound impact on their financial life. Fees can play an effective role in deterring students from signing up for housing they do not intend to live in, but this method should not be overused.
USF should use this situation as an opportunity to reevaluate their system of enrolling students in on-campus housing and should make every attempt to fix any potential mistakes made on applications.
For students who may have questions about the housing policy at USF or a specific question about their status, they should reach out to the Housing and Residential Education department.
Jared Sellick is a senior studying political science.