SA calls for $1.50 fee increase

By Matt Gilbert

The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Sunday calling for an increase of $1.50 in student fees for the Student-to-Student Grant Program.

Some senators said since the fees are fully refundable, students who did not agree with the increase could easily get a refund.

But a subsequent investigation by The Northern Star showed that it might not be so easy.

According to Bursar Richard Cochrane, students who ask for a refund on their $3 grant fee will find that they can get a refund of the fee, but if they do and they are receiving a grant from the fee, the grant will be withdrawn.

“That would be a sign that you don’t want to participate,” Cochrane said. “You would get a refund, but since you don’t want to participate, the award would be withdrawn.”

“You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” Cochrane said.

This may pose a particular problem for students who do receive a refund on their grant fees, since it does not show up on student financial aid award letters as a “Student-to-Student Grant,” but as simply an “NIU Grant.”

Cochrane said the orders for withdrawal came from the Student Financial Aid Office and originated from the Fall 1986 Student Association resolution which created the grant program.

When SA senators debated the fee increase resolution at the SA Senate meeting, nothing was mentioned about the fee refund stipulation—not from the senators, the executive board, Student Committee On Financial Aid (SCOFA) adviser and author of the resolution Miguel Guevara or guest speaker Jerry Augsburger, Director of Student Financial Aid.

When reached for comment, none of the above mentioned officials claimed to know about any such stipulation.

SA Vice President Dave Gonzalez said, “The motto of the SA is ‘students helping students,’ so nobody in the SA would have asked for a refund.”

Although not all SA senators were available for comment, those who could be reached had mixed reactions. Some were angry they were not told about the stipulation in time for the vote. Brian Black, who opposed the increase, said “There’s something shady about the whole thing.”

Other senators echoed the sentiments of James A. Caccia, who said the stipulation seems fair. “Those that refuse to pay into the system shouldn’t be able to get anything out of it.” he said.

Gueva said Tuesday he still supported the fee increase, even with the stipulation. “If you had a choice between getting $3 or $300, you’d probably take the $300.” he said.

The program was implemented by the Board of Regents on Oct. 16, 1986 after a Student Association-sponsored referendum passed NIU students. The grant program came at a time of many Reagan-era cuts in the Pell Grant program that changed the emphasis of the federal financial aid programs from grants to loans.