Friday, August 27, 2010

Employee question about Distance Learning fee

[FSU President] Dr. [Eric] Barron,

I know you must be very busy in this first week of classes, but I wondered if you could address an issue I have, or perhaps point me to someone who could help me. Since this is a somewhat urgent matter, I am copying [FSU Provost] Dr. [Larry] Abele in case he can better address this.

I am a USPS employee and I have benefited enormously from FSU's employee tuition scholarship. I completed an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities while working at FSU through this program, and I didn't have to pay a cent for tuition, for which I was grateful. However, starting this fall 2010 semester, I have begun studies toward an M.S. in Library Science and I ran into a rather substantial fee yesterday when I went to submit my employee tuition scholarship form: the fee for Distance Learning (for online classes). This fee works out to about $88 per enrolled credit hour, and virtually every course in my current program of study is online. (Only one or two occasional courses per semester are offered "face to face.") So this, in my viewpoint, seems to privilege one employee student over another - as a student in Humanities, I did not pay anything for tuition; as a student in Library Science, I will pay $88 per credit hour.

I was just wondering why this particular Distance Learning fee is not covered by the university for its employees. Every other fee associated with tuition is covered. I'm also unsure of the nature of the fee - Who receives the money from this fee and what does it go towards? From what I can tell, online courses should be saving FSU money: they do not require physical classrooms, nor do they require any of the accommodations that go along with physical classrooms (chairs, desks, markerboards, computers, electronic locks on doors, et al.). The software used for online classes is built into the Blackboard suite, which is available for every class on campus and shouldn't cost the university extra for online classes.

I mentioned that this was an urgent matter because I now owe $528 in tuition within one week for my two classes this semester, and I was unprepared for that fee. Additionally, employees are discouraged from receiving both the employee tuition scholarship and federal loans - we must choose one or the other. So I'm sort of at a loss as to what to do at this point, unless I can take [sic; should have been 'talk'] to someone about postponing payments for this Distance Learning fee.

Thank you very much for your time in reading this.


Justin de la Cruz

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