I am a student attending Santa Monica College. It's a good school that provides a great education. For this reason, I believe a great community college such as SMC (acronym) shouldn't be deceiving us (students) to pay optional fees that are automatically added to the enrollment fees. These optional fees are $13.00 for an I.D. Card and $19.00 for Associated Student fee. These optional fees are automatically added every semester. The optional fees are slightly reduced for the Summer and Winter semesters.
Basically, whenever I (student) go online (SMC's website) to enroll for classes for the Fall semester (example) and pay for my classes, the Student ID and Associated Student fees are automatically added to my balance. Next to the Student ID and Associated Student fees say they are optional, but there are no options to take them off! So, does that mean, its not optional and I should pay? Yet, it says optional next to it. Doesnt it sound deceiving?
After I enroll for classes, I have to either call the SMC Bursar's Office or go in person to have them removed so that I can pay for my classes. BUT, when I ask the Cashier Clerk at the Bursar's Office to my optional fees removed, they give me a hard time. The Cashier Clerk says, "Don't you want to help the school? If I had the money, I would love to pay, but just like many other students, most of us are broke. It's ridiculous that many students are duped into paying for the optional fees without realizing it.
IF the Student ID fee and Associated Student fee are TRULY optional; then MAKE both fees TRULY OPTIONAL! Shouldn't the students be ASKED to pay for them? Are we, the students not allowed to make the decision to pay for these optional fees? Isn't it our right to add or not add these optional fees along with our enrollment fees? Is it really optional, if we have to contact the SMC Bursar's Office to have them removed?
Here's an example: It's like buying a computer at the store and the store clerk asks if I want to pay an optional insurance fee with my purchase. I say yes or no. It's an option and I can pay it or not. The store clerk just doesn't automatically add it to my balance and wait for a supervisor to delete the optional fee so that I can pay for the computer without insurance. As a consumer, we have this right.
Aren't students just as much of a consumer? So, students at Santa Monica College should be able to manually request to add the Student ID fee or Associated Student fee or both with just a click of a button?
For many students, ESPECIALLY the International students attending Santa Monica College do not realize that they don't have to pay for them. International students pay a costly enrollment fee for attending SMC and most of them do not know the English language. So, when they pay their balance, they are also paying the Student ID fee and Associated Student fee. The International students didn't know they were optional because the fees were AUTOMATICALLY added to their balance.
I've asked many International students if they pay for the so-called optional fees. Most of them said yes. Others have said after a year of attending SMC, they stopped paying for it after they found out that the Student ID and Associated Student fees were optional. Some said they were badgered by the Cashier Clerk for not paying the optional fees.
It's not just the International students, but many other non-international students as well. It happens to me in every semester. I personally don't want to pay for a Student ID fee every semester because I have a Student ID card and it's still in good shape. So, why bother paying? I just want to pay the Associated Student fee.
So, I go to the Bursar's office to pay for the Associated Student fee and WAIVER the Student ID fee. The Cashier clerk will ask me why and I tell them that I already have a Student ID card. This time, I went to pay for my Associated Student fee for Fall 2008 and the Cashier clerk told me that I do not have the option to pay for the Associated Student fee alone and I have to pay for the Student ID fee AND the Associated Student fee TOGETHER because my Student ID card needs to be activated. I asked, Why does my ID card have to be activated? The Cashier clerk didn't reply. But, if I didn't want to pay for the Associated Student fee, then I can pay the Student ID fee alone. My Student ID card has worked at the School Library without paying the Student ID fee. Isn't this madness? Why do I have to be hounded by someone to remove my optional fees?
Doesn't this sound deceiving?
Of course, having a Student ID is essential, but is it necessary to pay the ID fee EVERY semester.
First of all, how come students of Santa Monica College have (given the option) to pay a Student ID for every semester? Pasadena City College, El Camino College, Los Angeles City College, West LA College, Valley College, Trade-Tech College, and so many more colleges do not charge their students a student ID fee for every semester. Also, their Associated Student fee is much cheaper, too.
Many SMC students get irritated every semester because of the automatic add on of optional fees. So many more SMC students do not realize they can waiver the optional fees, but they have to contact the Bursars Office. I feel that the optional fees that are automatically added to my enrollment fees are unjustified, if I am not given an option to add or not add the fees.
Also, I shouldn't have to contact anyone to remove the optional fees nor be questioned for the removal of it. I feel that Santa Monica College is using an unfair and deceptive practice to gain money from the students. It doesn't legally justify this practice by adding the word "optional" next to the fees, if we are not asked to add or not add and be forced to contact someone to remove them.
It is just unfair Santa Monica College!
Santa Monica, California