Saying farewell to fees: WSU student senators vote to end late fees

A paper holding information on canceling late fees for WSU students to take.

In a meeting on Jan. 23, Weber State University’s student senate passed a resolution that takes a strict stance against late fees. The unanimous approval of the resolution demonstrates the senators’ understanding of the struggles that students face with WSU’s late fee policy.

WSU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America chapter spearheaded the initiative to abolish late fees given to students who miss payments for their classes.

Efforts were initially made through an active petition that has now gathered over 350 signatures, with nearly 100 of those signees leaving their own testimonials of how the financial burden put onto them by late fees has negatively affected their ability to succeed in both academic and personal life.

Currently, according to WSU’s Office of the Bursar’s late fees and penalties policy, students are given a $40 late-payment fee if their balance isn’t paid in full before the Friday preceding the first day of a given semester.

The policy also states an interest assessment on unpaid balances in a student’s account begins 30 days after the beginning of the semester with an annual rate of 12%, an interest rate that Brexton Olesky-Lee, chair of the coordinating committee for WSU YDSA, said is comparable to interest charged on a credit card.

Olesky-Lee said that when looking over the responses provided through WSU YDSA’s petition, he was shocked to find multiple instances of students who attested to accumulating $1000 or more in late fees. Many who responded to the petition said falling behind on late fees made them feel guilty for eating or caused them to skip meals altogether.

Hunter Jex, a student majoring in music direction at WSU, said he had taken a fall right before the fall 2022 semester that had left him hospitalized with a shattered jaw. Jex said he spent three months in and out of the hospital while accumulating more than $600 in late fees for missed payments on fall classes.

“It was to the point where I had no money, but I still had to eat,” Jex said. “So it became ‘Do I put away $5 every day for food?’ or ‘Do I feel guilty every time I eat because that money isn’t going towards the late fees?’”

Jex also said he lost a significant amount of weight trying to save money on food while paying off his unpaid balance in late fees. He was unable to clear his balance until the holidays arrived and his family gave him money during Christmas.

Indavady Sopraseuth, a freshman who started at WSU in fall 2022, said she had begun falling behind on her tuition payments, unaware of the repercussions for doing so. Sopraseuth found herself having to choose between buying food and buying textbooks for her classes due to the fees accumulated.

Sopraseuth said that because she is someone with a smaller frame and a low BMI, it’s important to her physical well-being that she makes sure she doesn’t skip meals. As a result, Sopraseuth said her academic performance in class suffered due to her not being able to afford the textbooks needed.

With the passing of the resolution, Olesky-Lee hopes the struggles students face because of the consequences of WSU’s late policy become more visible to WSU’s decision-makers, namely President Brad Mortensen.

“We can’t make the goal to just be to get people to agree, we have to make the goal to actually use that to turn an advantage and really improve these students’ lives,” Olesky-Lee said.