The college is refunding nearly $50,000 in institutional fees to hundreds of students.
In December of 2019, the college learned from the Department of Education that certain types of fees should not be covered by financial aid funds. As a result, Clackamas Community College is refunding these fees from the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years.
Jennifer Anderson, associate dean of Enrollment and Student Services, said college employees learned they should not be using financial aid to cover students’ late fees at a December financial aid conference in Reno, Nev.
“The way I frame it for myself is like a change in the tax code, right?” said Anderson. “Like this year, something’s allowable to write off and next year, something has changed.”
Students have been receiving letters from the college that they will receive refunds. According to Anderson, the college will refund approximately
$48,000 to 651 students, with the range of refunds being from $30 to $420 per student.
For the 2017-2018 academic year, the college refunded an average of $70 to 231 students ($16,170), and in the 2018-2019 year, $71 to 453 students ($32,163).
For students who have graduated, the school will use students’ last known addresses to refund this money.
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators states on its website, “late fees, penalty fees, finance charges, and overtime charges are not allowable charges and therefore cannot be paid with Title IV funds.”
Specifically at CCC, the ones that affect students are the late payment fees and deferred payment fees. These fees are mostly from failing to pay balances by a specific date, but can also be from choosing a deferred payment plan.
The college is also undergoing a routine audit ‑ the first in roughly 20 years – to look at how it handles student financial aid, Anderson said.
“It’s just our time,” said Anderson. “We’re in the middle of it. It’s not public.”