Appeal leaves student aggrieved

By Derek Woellner —

 

Appeal approvals may be granted in these cases:

-University error  

-Death of an immediate family member (parent, child, spouse, or sibling)  

-Other, a circumstance beyond the student’s control that interrupted their ability to adhere to UWStout’s policies, attend classes, or complete the semester

 

 

Appeals will be denied in these cases, but not limited to:  

-Unaware of payment due dates  

-Unaware of refund schedule for withdrawals and/or drops  

-Non attendance

-Poor performance in classes  

-Did not like the course for which registered  

-Issues between the student and the instructor  

-Disciplinary action  

-Voluntary changes in employment, commitments, goals, etc.  

-Financial hardship

 

A Stout student has expressed outrage over the Tuition Reimbursement process.

 

Senior Matthew Latonna was very unsatisfied with the university after his appeal for a tuition reimbursement was denied. The appeal was denied by the Tuition and Fee Appeals Committee, and although the Committee cannot legally comment on the appeal of a specific student, they were able to say that appeals are not granted often.

 

Each semester, around 20 to 30 students apply for a tuition reimbursement. Only about five will meet the requirements to be granted. The number of appeals drops down into the single digits during Winterm and summer classes. This past Winterm, Latonna was one of those few students that wrote an appeal.

 

Latonna was seeking a reimbursement after the passing of his grandmother during the first week of Winterm prevented him from keeping up in his accounting class.

 

“My grandma raised me,” explained Latonna, “my grandma was practically my mom.”

 

Appeals may be granted in cases involving the death of an immediate family member. Grandparents do count as immediate family, but they require an extra burden of proof for a student writing an appeal.

 

All appeals based on a death require a death certificate, obituary or death notice. For the death of a grandparent, the documentation can be trickier because it’s harder to prove their relation to the student. If the student isn’t listed in the obituary, then they need to provide a copy of their birth certificate, their parent’s birth certificate, and then the death certificate. The parent, who is the child of the grandparent, bridges the gap in the documentation because their name appears on both the student’s birth certificate and the grandparent’s death certificate.

 

“I’m the type of guy that try and stick things out to the end,” explained Latonna. He said that he didn’t drop the class right away because he thought he could push through. He did manage to pass another Winterm class he was taking, but as he neared the end of the term he knew he wasn’t going to pass accounting so he dropped it.

 

Latonna learned after he dropped that he wouldn’t be getting any amount of a refund. He would have needed to drop in the first week to get a full refund, and by the second week to get just 25% back. Any dropped class after two weeks during Winterm cannot be refunded without an appeal.

 

Appeals are granted or denied based on a majority vote by the Tuition and Fee Appeals Committee. Members of the Committee are appointed by the chancellor. There are three members, meaning that only two are needed to make a majority decision, but usually the votes are unanimous.

 

Members of the Committee do not always meet in-person to review a case and vote. Often times they contact each other electronically either on the phone or by email. There is no hearing or any such thing that a student could attend.

 

“That’s my biggest complaint, no student input,” said Latonna. He wished he could have been able to represent himself in-person before they denied his appeal, and he doesn’t believe that deciding on an appeal should be done electronically.  

 

“They’re putting my future in the hands of a phone call,” exclaimed Latonna.

 

But Committee member Scott Correll doesn’t believe that the outcome of an appeals case would ever differ between deciding in-person or over the phone. He says their decision is based solely on the documentation that the student provides. The documentation requirements are set by the UW System, and Stout is audited by the system to make sure appeals are only granted under the acceptable circumstances.

 

The Tuition and Fee Appeals Committee is comprised of representatives from the Registar’s Office, Financial Aid Office and the Bursar’s Office, respectively. All three representatives are appointed by the Chancellor. Currently, the committee members are Scott Correll, the Interim Director of Enrollment, Beth Boisen, the Director of the Financial Aid Office, and Kathy Retz, the Bursar of Student Business Services.

 

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