The opt-out application is currently live on ACORN and we did the math to see if opting out is right for you.
On January 17, Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government announced the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI) and cuts to OSAP funding. The SCI gives students the option to opt out of certain incidental fees, including fees for student clubs, societies, and the students’ union.
The University of Toronto Mississauga identifies athletics and recreation, career services, student buildings, the HCC (Health and Counselling Centre), academic support, Student ID cards, transcriptions, convocation, financial aid offices, and walk-safe programs as “essential” fees.
Students do not have the option to opt-out of the existing MiWay transit U-Pass fee of $250.26 per year ($125.13 per semester), however they can opt-out of health and dental coverage, which amounts to $374.86 per year ($187.43 per semester), if they already have existing, comparable coverage.
The total cost of incidental fees, including the mandatory and optional fees, is $1,739.64 per year ($869.82 per semester). The total amount of “non-essential” fees that students can opt-out from adds up to $111.84 per year ($55.92 per semester). Non-essential fees make up approximately six per cent of all incidental fees.
Atif Abdullah, the president of UTMSU, discussed the initiative behind SCI at UTMSU’s Board of Directors Meeting on April 1.
“These changes seem to [be] becoming less about saving student money which is the prerogative that they ran with, because the things deemed essential, i.e. the Student Pass, the Athletics, were the most expensive things,” says Abdullah.
“What started off as a means to save student money quickly turned into an initiative to shut down student led and run organizations.”
The SCI’s online application is currently active on the ACORN website. Students can find the “Incidental Fee” application under the “Financial Account” tab. The last date for UTM students to opt-out of any incidental fee is Thursday, September 19, 2019.