Paying out of pocket for second party applications causes an issue for students

Jenna Minor, Staff Reporter

Isabel Spear is a freshman criminology major at Eastern and despite it only being her second semester of college, she has already taken a class where she had to pay out-of-pocket to access her homework.

The payment was not covered in her tuition but required for her to pass the class. For Spear, it was her honors Philosophy class, Philosophy, Logic, and Reasoning.

“I kind of thought it was a little bit bogus because we already pay a lot to go here and a lot to take the class itself,” Spear said.

Student Body President Lucy Ade was no stranger to the complaints for these courses. She compiled a list of classes she knows of that have required the extra costs, which includes 19 different courses, featuring business, math, physics, chemistry, languages, and others. It is not an official list, but many of the courses have received complaints.

It even got brought to her attention by the Director of Academic Advising and a member of the TRiO Office.

“They talked to me about this issue that they had a couple of students about, and I went, ‘Oh, I actually remember I actually had a class that actually did this,’” Ade said. “So we went around and we thought that a certain Internal Governing Policy, IGP, #125, would cover this issue.”

IGP #125 was approved in April 2020 for EIU and covered course charges.

“I was actually informed that IGP #125 does not cover student fees,” Ade said. “IGP #125 only covers if a class has an additional charge that would appear on a student’s account.”

Eastern’s Provost and soon-to-be 13th President Jay Gatrell also explained that the policy only covers tuition, not other payments required by students.

“First, I recognize that the cost of supplemental materials can pose challenges for students,” Gatrell said. “Unfortunately, ancillary or supplemental materials, including online resources, are not covered by IGP #125 as the regulation applies only to direct University expenditures.”

While the IGP does not cover out-of-pocket expenses for students, Ade said she finds two issues with this policy not covering the costs: students have no idea the extra charge exists while registering for classes and it is an equity problem.

“Ways that we can do this is we can make sure that these kind of charges are either paid for by department or if these charges will appear on someone’s student account,” said Ade. “If it appears in a student’s student account and it’s a part of their billing statement for the University, financial aid can come in and help.”

Even though there is nothing wrong with the costs on a policy level with the University, it could still cause issues for students taking classes at EIU. Spear said that she was able to use a little bit of extra scholarship money for her extra payments.

“I was able to use that to help me pay for it, but I know not everybody’s in that situation,” Spear said.

But another issue brought up was if the extra add-ons for classes even help with a student’s educational experience.

“In some disciplines, non-textbook educational materials provide students with access to critical materials and learning experiences that traditional classroom-based activities or texts may not,” Gatrell said.

He also said that it could help students gain expertise outside of the classroom.

But for Spear, the extra cost did not benefit her or her fellow classmates.

“The website itself goes directly through the book,” Spear said. “So a lot of the stuff in the book we don’t actually learn in class and the last assignment the entire class agreed it was too confusing, too hard. None of us passed it.”

She also said she learned a lot from her professor, so she did not see the need for the online homework that was assigned.

But Ade said in her experience, the extra payment paid off.

“The professor used it so it was a teaching moment,” Ade said. “It was to help us learn.”

Despite her experience with the out-of-pocket payments being a good one, she explained how she and Gatrell are working together to put the right changes into place.

“When I brought this issue up to the Provost, he was very much adamant in this is something that he wants to get addressed,” Ade said.

But until then, IGP #125 is in-tact, not covering these extra costs.

“The belief and like what it was meant to do to help students, I believe it can be reworded,” Ade said. “There is a way we can reword IGP #125 to include these additional added costs, which I think would be very beneficial for students. I think the good faith effort when IGP #125 was originally introduced was to deal with situations like this. It’s just that how it’s worded doesn’t actually affect these out-of-pocket pays.”


Jenna Minor can be reached t 581-2812 or at [email protected].