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College Fees

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She goes to FIU, but she attends the classes online. That's why one student was shocked to learn she was paying fees for services she doesn't use. So she turned to Help Me Howard and Patrick Fraser for help.

WSVN -- When Ana was in the sixth grade, a teacher thought she needed a spark, and put her in a photography class.

Ana Rodriguez:"I really enjoyed it. And ever since then I can't put a camera down."

Today she is a student at FIU, majoring in art and still taking photography classes as well.

Ana Rodriguez: "I figured if I am going to go to school and get a Bachelors degree, I am going to get a degree in something that I love, something that I really want to do."

Ana loves the FIU classes and campus, but she does not go on campus. Instead, paying for art and photography classes online. And she's paying fees for other things as well.

Ana Rodriguez: "Parking fees, residual fees. There is a health fee, there is a gym fee. There is a fee for me taking online classes."

Ana's tuition for her three classes this semester is $1,361. And the nine different fees cost her an additional $1,233.

Ana Rodriguez: "When I looked at my account and I saw these charges, I was baffled."

The prices begin at $470 for what is listed as undergraduate differential.

Ana pays tuition for the arts and photography classes, then pays a $160 fee to take each class online.

FIU also charges her a health fee, an athletic fee and $90 for a parking access fee.

Ana Rodriguez: "I don't park. I don't use their health facility. I don't use their gym. I don't even have a car."

Ana is not alone. Every student pays fees. Ana says when she talks to her friends about it, most say "Oh well."

Ana Rodriguez: "It's financial aide, go ahead you can have it. Oh it's bright futures, go ahead, you can have it."

But Ana looks at it a different way. She has financial aid. Almost half of it is going to pay fees. If she didn't have to pay them, she could pay for twice as many classes.

Ana Rodriguez: "I could have done four semesters at FIU if I didn't have the fees. Instead of two."

Well Howard, Ana thinks it's wrong, but is it legal to charge fees for a service a student may not use?

Howard Finkelstein: "According to the Florida Legislature, yes. And in many cases, the state universities are required by law to charge the fees. But, to keep the costs down to students, the schools are limited in how much they can charge, and for what."

I spoke to the chief financial officer for FIU, Dr. Kenneth Jessell explained that the $470 differential item listed under fees is actually tuition. Every student has to pay it unless they enrolled prior to 2007, or are under a pre paid plan.

That the online fee covers the technology required to provide the classes Ana takes from home. Jessell hopes as technology improves, those fees will go down..

He added a student getting an online degree does not have to pay fees for things they don't use like parking.

But Ana's degree is not classified as an online degree. Meaning she has to pay those fees.

Jessell added at FIU its all about the students and that the fees are tightly regulated by the state and are audited to make sure the cost is accurate.

Ana Rodriguez: "FIU is a beautiful campus. It's gorgeous. It's a city within itself. But I don't use their city."

Ana had questions, and like a good student she reached out to get answers. But she is not satisfied. She hopes her fellow students can find a way to lower the cost of fees to help students like her.

Ana Rodriguez: "We produce a lot of good people. Lets figure out a way to help people who don't use these facilities. So they don't have to pay these fees."

If you're a student and thinking about taking online courses, to save money, check on the schools website to see if your degree is considered an online degree. If so, you can avoid some fees. If not, like Ana you will have to pay fees for things you may never use. But check. Every dollar helps.

Think something online is out of line? Wanna graduate to another level? Park it with us. We are free of fees, meaning you get what you don't even pay for. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser Seven News.

Contact Help me Howard:

E-mail: Helpmehoward@wsvn.Com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.Com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-wsvn

Broward: 954-761-wsvn


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