Optional Fee Stands Out On Student Bills

By Ricky Wolf

Brockport Beat Staff Writer

When students pay their student bill, they are likely to notice a list of fees. SUNY Brockport students may be confused when they see one fee in particular.

          The “Gift to Brockport” fee appears on each bill as a $30 charge. It does not appear separate from other fees, but is labeled an “optional” cost.

          According to the SUNY Brockport website, funds collected from this fee are used for “scholarships, undergraduate research, career networking opportunities, commencement activities and student-alumni programming through the Brockport Foundation.” The funds go to “The Fund for Brockport.”

          Many students do not understand why the fee is included in the student bill by default. A student must indicate their wish to remove the fee from their bill at the “Student Services” tab on the campus information system. Students can remove the fee until the end of the current semester, but cannot receive a refund for previous semesters for any reason.

          SUNY Brockport student Rebecca Deserto was informed about the optional charge.

          “When I paid in person, I was told about the charge and the opt out,” Deserto said. “It would be a surprise to scroll through a bill and find that fee without knowing about it.”

          Students who pay online would need to be alert to notice the fee.

          But it could be worse for Brockport students. SUNY Geneseo requires students to pay all fees and directs students to request refunds for the “optional” fees.

“They’d get me with that,” Deserto said. “I would be too lazy to worry about getting a refund.”

          In addition, students may be unaware of this or experience temporary financial stress because of the charges.

          Other methods of donating to the college are completely voluntary.

          Some schools appear to offer opportunities to make donations, but do not include anything related to college gifts in student bills. Brockport also offers this opportunity to give more. These funds also go to “The Fund for Brockport,” but are listed as unrestricted gifts. This implies that the college decides how to use the money.

For perspective, students may review the fees assessed at other schools. SUNY Cortland also lists $30 in optional fees. SUNY Herkimer, by contrast, only lists one $10 optional fee. It offers select students a lifetime membership as a Herkimer alumna/alumnus.

          Donating to the college is not the only way for students to make an impact through generosity. There are several ways to help the community through simple acts of kindness and taking time to help others.

          One such opportunity comes to the community during the holiday season. Some organizations collect donations or create gifts for families in need. In 2017, “Gifts of Gratitude” collected 1,059 items to donate to 16 families. Donations were dropped off in the Seymour College Union by people who wanted to help others for the holiday season. Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to participate in events like this.

          Anne Parker, a fifth-grade teacher in Brockport, has seen successful efforts of generosity on many occasions.

          “We have school supplies that are donated to us and sometimes we don’t even know where they came from,” Parker said. “They’re not cheap supplies.”

          Some of the most mysterious donations are the most surprising.

          “There is an anonymous donor who donates hundreds of dollars of gift cards each year to the high school,” Parker said.

Parker also mentioned a site called donorschoose.org. DonorsChoose allows anyone to find a classroom to fund. They can view projects and make donations on the website. After the class receives supplies, reports are sent to donors to show them how their funds were used.

Whether people find a way to help online or through an anonymous act of kindness, their donations of personal or monetary value help those in need.

          While the “Gift to Brockport” fee for Brockport students may not be well-known or liked, it is optional. There are several opportunities for anyone to make an impact locally or globally. Students can choose to contribute to Brockport’s fund, or get creative with their own acts of kindness in the community.

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