Students enrolled in online summer courses were unexpectedly charged Sunday with only three days to cover the balance.
Students were charged $20 per credit hour as a result of distance learning and accessibility fees over the summer for select students with the Florida Bright Futures scholarship, UF spokesperson Steve Orlando wrote in an email.
Most students received a charge Sunday and should have it eliminated by Bright Futures Monday, he wrote. Distance learning fees are normally not covered under Bright Futures, he wrote, but the university was able to reduce costs such as health and transportation fees, so that tuition stayed the same.
Students who received the Medallion award, which covers 75% of UF’s tuition and fees, were only awarded that portion of the fees.
He wrote that those students still have a balance on their account to UF. No late fees will be issued to those charges.
Students said they felt upset and confused by the mysterious fees that appeared more than a month after the summer semester ended.
Brianna Alderman, a 19-year-old UF statistics and economics sophomore, took four courses over the summer and was charged $240. Alderman has the Bright Futures scholarship and her costs were covered Monday.
After calling the bursar’s office Monday, she was told she was charged $20 for each credit hour but has heard different numbers from other students.
She said the woman she spoke to seemed as confused as she was. The woman wasn’t aware of the fees until a conference Monday morning.
Zenah Baker, a 21-year-old UF material science and engineering senior, also called the bursar’s office and received different information. She was informed that a total of $60 were charged for distance learning fees and accessibility fees per course.
Baker has the Florida Bright Futures scholarship and said her fees were covered Monday. She said the fees were unfair for students who were not as fortunate as she.
“A lot of kids who are paying by themselves, rent is due in three days,” Baker said. “So that's their groceries for the next two weeks.”
Baker initially found out through the “Swampy UF Memes” Facebook page about 10 p.m. Sunday before receiving an email from the bursar’s office at about 1 a.m notifying her of the charge.
Gabriella Sanchez, a 21-year-old UF history senior, was charged $320 for the 16 credits she took this semester. The Bright Futures scholarship has since covered her fees but she said the distance learning fees are unreasonable for those who have to pay out of pocket.
“The quality of education online is inferior than in person,” Sanchez said. “And to charge extra seems ridiculous.”