Author: Meagan Campbell 

Students heading back to classes at Memorial this week undoubtedly have a myriad of items on their minds, and paying tuition is likely to be high on that list. Typically, Memorial’s deadline for the payment of tuition and other fees is the first day of lectures each semester.

There are several payment options available to students including cash, debit, telephone and online banking, cheque, payroll deductions (for graduate students), student aid, tuition vouchers, and credit card.

Presently, MasterCard is the only credit card accepted by Memorial. In 2013 the university decided to transfer the payment of credit card transaction fees to students. A 1.95 per cent convenience fee was introduced, paid by students to Moneris – the company responsible for processing Memorial’s credit card payments.

Around the same time the convenience fee was introduced, Visa made changes to their own policies making it impermissible for a company like Moneris to charge a convenience fee on Visa transactions in Canada. This led to Memorial eliminating Visa from their selection of payment options.

Yet the elimination of Visa as a payment option was not the only slotted change as a result of the introduction of convenience fees. At the time, the MUNSU executive voiced their concerns about students’ access to education in light of the new payment policies and called for a discussion of ways to offset the new restrictions on credit card payments.

Ultimately, the university decided to set the deadline for tuition payments two weeks later – coinciding with the deadline for students to drop courses and receive a full tuition refund. Dalhousie University, in Halifax NS, has been syncing these two important academic dates for years.

The decision is reflected in the 2013-2014 Undergraduate Calendar, where the University Diary shows the deadlines for the Fall and Winter semesters complying with this change. However, in the same academic year, by the Spring semester Memorial had apparently reverted back to the old model, with tuition fees due the same day that lectures began.

A brief perusal of the University Diary over the next three years reveals that, after two semesters, Memorial never again set the deadline after the first day of lectures – though they continued to charge students a convenience fee on credit card tuition payments. Dave Sorensen, Memorial’s Manager of Communications, was contacted for comment on this issue but his response was not available at the time of writing this article.