CUPE 4600 and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) have received reports that some graduate students have experienced year-over-year fee increases above the 5% that is allowed by the provincial government under the Tuition Fee Framework.

Graduate students are encouraged to check their Student Account Summary in Carleton Central to see if they have been reimbursed for their excessive tuition fees.

How can the university do that? Isn’t it illegal?

Carleton University has created a complicated system of tuition charges that involve two categories of graduate ‘years’: First Year and Upper Year. When calculating First Year tuition increases, Carleton appropriately compares 2014 First Year with 2015 First Year (for example). However, when calculating Upper Year tuition increases, Carleton compares 2014 First Year with 2015 Upper Year.

Because Upper Year tuition rates for the 2015-16 year are identical with First Year tuition rates for the 2014-15 year, Carleton claims that tuition has increased by 0%. However, if we compare Upper Year 2014 with Upper Year 2015, we see that Upper Year tuition has actually increased dramatically.

Perhaps because they were comparing the wrong data, Carleton may have missed the fact that many grad students experienced increases well above the maximum allowed.

How does this affect you?

Lack of transparency – Carleton Senior Administration told the Board of Governors in April 2015 that most grad student tuition fees were going up by 0%. As the GSA noted in a membership advisory earlier this month, many graduate students (and other interested parties) who pay attention to what the university publically reports were surprised to find that their tuition had increased much higher than they had expected.

Illegal increases – This year, Upper Year graduate tuition increased by almost 6%, violating provincial regulations which enforce a 5% cap on graduate tuition. These illegal increases were invisible, and therefore were not caught by members of the Board of Governors when they voted on the tuition framework.

Problems with Tuition Increase Assistance (TIA) rebate – Under the collective agreement, the TIA rebate ensures each TA, for the duration of their employment at Carleton, will only pay the rates of tuition that were in place when they began as a TA. In many cases, Carleton has failed to accurately pay TAs their TIA rebate, by erroneously arguing that their tuition has not increased.

What are CUPE 4600 and the GSA doing about it?

The GSA brought this issue to the attention of Carleton University, who made a commitment to correct the illegal tuition increases and to reimburse graduate students for the excess funds collected. This adjustment should have been made to student accounts on June 8, 2015.

CUPE 4600 has already filed a grievance regarding the incorrect calculation that stems from this complex system of tuition fees. That process is moving to arbitration in September of 2015.

Going forward, CUPE 4600 and the GSA are calling on Carleton University to stop misrepresenting tuition fees, and to accurately calculate and represent tuition increases. When calculating tuition increases, Carleton must compare Upper Year to Upper Year, so that the real increases faced by students are available for everyone to see.

What can you do?

Check your Account Summary in Carleton Central to see if your tuition has gone up by more than 5% since last year, or if you have received a credit to your account. If you are a TA, verify you are receiving the correct tuition rebate by visiting CUPE 4600’s Tuition Rebate info page. It can also be used to find and compare tuition fees from various years. If you notice any discrepancies in your tuition, or if you have any other questions, please contact CUPE and/or the GSA at the email addresses below.

CUPE 4600

Graduate Students’ Association

In solidarity,

Courtney Lockhart
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4600

Kaitlin Milroy & Miles Krauter
Vice-Presidents, Unit 1
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4600

Kevin Partridge & Wesley Petite
Chief Stewards, Unit 1
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 4600

Michael Bueckert
Graduate Students’ Association, Local 78 of the Canadian Federation of Students