Broke For Education

You want to make me mad? Then lets talk about money.

I  probably shouldn’t be posting right now because I’m too angry and because I don’t know all the details yet, but since I don’t yet know who to contact to get those details I just need to blow off some steam and this seems like as good of a place as any. Here’s what you need to know:

Starting in August I will be attending graduate school at the University of Southern California for Film Production. I’m very excited about this and I love the school and the program and am looking forward to latching on and sucking out their knowledge until I get fat and fall off like the little information leech that I am. But after five minutes of looking over my Student Account it is extremely apparent that USC is just as eager to get their little leechy suckers on my bank account until it is a withered, shriveled husk of paperwork and zeroes.

Look, I knew going into this that graduate school was going to cost somewhere between “an arm and a leg” and “the eyes from my head”, but I expected it to be expensive for valid reasons: tuition, class fees, parking permits, etc. That’s fine: I have budgeted for that. But every time I turn around I’m being charged for something else with no apparent explanation.

For example: I received paperwork saying that the lab fee for my production class will be $500. Fine. I’m ready for that. On my account it shows up as $525. What the hell is the extra $25 for? Am I buying somebody lunch? If the fee was going to be $525 why didn’t they just say so? Did they think it would be a fun surprise like a naked girl jumping out of a cake? SUPRISE! You get to pay an extra $25!

Another example: I go to buy a parking permit and find the cheapest parking structure I can: it says it is going to be $275. Fine. Budgeted. I’m ready for that. On the next screen it says my total is now $300 because there is $25 in parking tax. Ok- not fun but we all have to pay the tax man. On the next screen it says my total is now $310. Why? Because of a convenience fee. Convenient for whom? Not for me, that’s for goddamn sure. I almost don’t dare click “Next” lest the next screen tell me that I also owe a $5 Sucker Fee. 

Another example: I received paperwork saying that as a student I would need to have health insurance in order to attend and that I can get it through the school. It will cost $600. Per semester. Fine. But it so happens that I don’t need to get health insurance through the school because I  already have health insurance through the Curmudgeonly Lion’s workplace. If I want to use this insurance instead I need to fill out a waiver. So I do. I am still being billed $600 for health insurance.

And then there are all these expenses with no explanation: $8 having something to do with financial aid (A fee? A contribution to financial aid for less fortunate students? A royalty payment for using the words “financial aid”?) a $35 expense having something to do with orientation. I’m beginning to feel like I’m being hung upside down by my ankles and shaken to see what falls out of my pockets. I actually feel relieved to see the charge for tuition even though it is five digits long- because I know what it is and it’s supposed to be there.

It’s no wonder students are going broke for education: it’s not even tuition that is the problem- it’s the nickel and dime fees and expenses that show up unannounced and demand to be paid. There’s no contact information on the student account page to contact if you have questions. There are no links explaining what the fees are for or from or where they are going or to what purpose. Maybe if I were paying for all these expenses with a student loan I wouldn’t care so much: it’s the government’s money and I won’t have to deal with it for three years. But I’m not. I’m paying for the first year out of my own pocket and I VERY much care where that money is going and what it is going towards.

In Scotland there is a saying that someone has “deep pockets and short arms” meaning that they may have money but they don’t want to reach in their pockets to give it to you. You would not believe how much shorter my arms have gotten in the past thirty minutes.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on July 25, 2013.

One Response to “Broke For Education”

  1. How aggravating!

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