UNB changes definition of full-time student, increases rates

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The change brings shock to part-time students only a few weeks before classes begin – but there are some benefits.

(Image: UNB Saint John)

UNB notified students of a change in their full-time criteria, requiring many part-time students to pay higher tuition than expected and with little notice before the start of the fall semester.

Any student taking three or more courses will be paying the full time rate. The changes have some students shook, worried about their funding, and uncertain about their student loans. This comes just months after the New Brunswick government scrapped the free tuition program.

The university says there are many benefits to those who are impacted but students still have questions.

Student Representative Council opposes changes

The SRC released a statement expressing their opposition to this decision as “one that came with no consultation of students on our campus and with only weeks’ notice before the start of the fall semester.”

They also expressed concern about the impact this may have on students who “are unable to afford full-time tuition or . . . heading back to school while still working or raising a family.”

Before these changes were made, a student taking three courses would pay $2,241 per semester, now they are on the hook for nearly $3,900. This may create problems for those who have already applied for student loans as part-time, and changes to loan status can sometimes take weeks to fix.

Any delay in funding can cause problems for students who rely on it to pay rent, buy groceries, and buy textbooks.

University claims there are benefits

According to CBC, George MacLean, vice-president academic, said “Up until now students would be full time academically if they took three courses but they had to take four courses to be considered full time financially, and that meant students not taking four courses were not eligible for a whole series of benefits and advantages.”

Students who are affected by this will now have health and dental coverage through the university. In UNB’s student fee and tuition breakdown on their website, it states that dental coverage costs $125 and health insurance is $160.

That doesn’t exactly add up to the extra $1600 some students will be paying but there are other benefits, such as the ability to register for more classes.

Student union wasn’t consulted

MacLean also told CBC that the timing of this change was not intended to increase student stress and that the student union was “quite positive in their feedback on this because they recognized that this was going to create opportunities for students that they simply didn’t have access to before.”

Grace Mangusso, an executive member of the UNB Student Union, told CBC that the student union was “not consulted at any point during the discussions or decision involved in making this change.”

She also pointed out that, while some students will have health benefits, “this does not reflect ‘positive feedback’ from the student union as we clearly understand the significant negative financial impact of this change on our peers.”

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Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.