A new student refund and late registration fee policy was approved by the Mercer County Community College Board of Trustees, effective summer 2013.
Mercer is now only offering full refunds for students who drop their course before the start date. Full refunds once the course has begun are no longer available.
The new policy offers students a 50 percent refund for classes dropped within the first seven days of a 15 week term. For shorter terms students have two days to decide. The fall semester officially started on August 24th.
If a student has to withdrawal from classes due to a medical illness, family tragedy or other severe situations, the student is eligible for a full refund. In this instance, the student would need to provide proper documentation and get special approval from the Registrar and the Dean of Students.
Assistant Vice President of Academic Operations, Susan Zambrio, expressed that it is important for students to know that “during the first week of class, if they wanted to drop a class and add another class, if this is done at the same time there is no cost to them. But the change has to be done at the same time.”
Zambrio explained, in a phone interview, some of the reasons for the change by saying “We determined that students found the old policy was confusing and it also prevented students from getting a seat into popular classes, such as the sciences.”
According to Zambrio, a committee was put in charge of creating the new policies once the college transitioned to a new computer system last year.The transition gave the administrative staff of different departments the opportunity to evaluate existing policies at Mercer.
The committee consisted of various departments such as finance, academic affairs, bursar, registrar’s office, student affairs and academic operations.
“It was a real collaborative team that was put together,” Zambrio said. The committee had also been comparing policies of other community colleges to see what had worked well for their school.
Once a final draft of the policy was formed it was sent to a member of the executive team to present to the board of trustees for approval.
“It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.” Zambrio said. “We tried to look at all sides of it [the new policy].”
The Board of Trustees also approved a change in the Late Registration Fee Policy. Previously, students who registered a week before the term started were charged a $35 dollar fee. Now, only students who register on the first day of the term or later will be charged for late registration.
A Voice survey of 30 Mercer students revealed that 27 percent of the surveyed knew about the change in policy.
Taylor Cohen, first year Communications Major, said “I like the change to the late registration policy because it gives more time to students to register for their classes without feeling pressured knowing they will have to pay a fee if they are registering close to the starting semester.”
Allison Quigley, Liberal Arts Major stated “I really like the new late registration fee policy and think it’s very student friendly.”
While some students said they are satisfied with the new late registration fee policy, others expressed discontent with the new refund policy.
Vannesa Olivo, Biology major, said “Students shouldn’t have deadlines when deciding whether to stay in a class. A full refund should be given no matter when they decide.”
Mercer student Kara Breazeau said “Students shouldn’t be penalized if they decide they don’t like a class they registered for.”
The college’s website addresses what will happen if courses are dropped after the refund eligibility date by stating “A course dropped anytime after refund eligibility for that course will be processed as a withdrawal. No refund of tuition or fees will be made to a student who is withdrawn from a course by an instructor due to non-attendance or who is dismissed from the college for cause.”
The website also explains that dropped classes or withdrawals can cause adjustments to financial aid that can result in a balance being due to the college for tuition.