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SBCC’s online students will be charged a mandatory health fee

Delaney Smith, Features Editor

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The College Planning Council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of charging online-only students the mandatory health fee that, until now, was only applied to on-campus students.

“We are behind the curve compared to other two-year colleges in California,” said Laura Fariss, the director of Student Health and Wellness. “83 percent of other community colleges here are already charging their online students the fee and they have been for years.”

The fee is $20 per semester and $17 per summer session. 14 percent of City College students last fall were online-only, totaling 2,367 students. Because the Student Health and Wellness services are funded solely by the student health fee, the drop in enrollment has greatly impacted the services they can offer.

“Our budget was $95,000 in deficit last year because of the enrollment drop,” Fariss said. “Charging the fee to online students will give us an extra $100,000 a year to make up for that.”

The Student Health and Wellness Center offers many free services that are in jeopardy without the extra funds from online students. These include, but are not limited to, six counseling sessions, condoms, tampons, over-the-counter medications, tobacco cessation supplies, and flu shots.

Katie Laris, chair of the planning and resources committee, shared her unease about voting in favor of charging online students the fee.

“I don’t know if this is possible, but I wonder if there is a way to only charge online students living in the area the health fee,” she said. “Because it doesn’t seem like students living outside of the county are going to be able to use what they are paying for. It’s just not fair.”

Fariss responded to Laris’ concern by mentioning some of the ways that online students can actually benefit from paying the health fee.

“We do have the online ‘Ask a Nurse’ interactive email,” she said. “And we are trying to develop long distance counseling because despite the drop in enrollment, the demand for mental health services is increasing and at this point we do only have counseling for students who come to campus. With the extra funds coming in from online students, we can work on developing long-distance services as well.”

Fariss did reiterate that the main benefit of charging online students the fee would be to help finance the services that already exist and make up for the drop in funds due to enrollment. Because many on-campus students who drive their own vehicle are still required to pay the transportation fee each semester, the consensus of the group was that it does not seem unfair to charge the health fee to online students whether or not they use the services.

The Associated Student Government already voted five to one in favor of charging the fee on February 23. With the College Planning Council also on board, the fee for online students will now move to the Board of Trustees.

 

Correction: March 12, 2018
An earlier version of this story stated that the online fees will go into effect next semester. In fact, the proposal will now move to the Board of Trustees. The Channels regrets this error.

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1 Comment

One Response to “SBCC’s online students will be charged a mandatory health fee”

  1. Judy Haro on June 19th, 2018 1:17 pm

    I don’t think that online students that do not live in the Santa Barbara area should be charged the health fee. I never access any online health services as I have my own health care. It is unfair and fees should be charged elsewhere.

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SBCC’s online students will be charged a mandatory health fee