College changes distance learning fees

Story by Victoria Drews

Many students that have been able to stay in school at this time have found themselves looking over billing statements and making sure school payments are covered — while deferred payment fees and late registration fees have been waived, so as to ease the financial burden of their students, why hasn’t the Distance Learning fee been waived too? 

If you’ve attended CCC after 2008 , you’ve likely been told about the online and hybrid classes that are offered in addition to the traditional face-to-face on-campus classes. If you haven’t taken an online class, or researched how they work at CCC, you may not have noticed that online and hybrid courses carry an extra fee, which shows up as “DISLR” on your billing statement; for a hybrid course — a course that meets in-person and online — the fee is $20. For an exclusively online class, the fee raises to $40; face-to-face classes do not carry a Distance Learning fee.

All of CCC’s classes come with a Moodle shell to keep track of assignments and due dates, update grades, share important announcements — the list goes on — however, if all of the classes utilize the Moodle platform, but only hybrid and online students are paying the Distance Learning fee, what does it pay for?

Math instructor Mark Yannotta wanted to offer more hybrid math classes but didn’t like that his students were charged more for them when he didn’t know where that money was going. 

“I found that I have a moral issue that I couldn’t just make these classes hybrids if I didn’t know where that fee money was going… so I just kind of paused and said ‘Let’s go talk to administration,’” said Math Department chair Mark Yannotta. “At some point, the fee fund that used to go to [the Distance Learning] department got absorbed into the general fund, so now we had lost the direct link for Distance Learning.”

Yannotta said the issue had been tabled for the 2018-19 school year because the catalog deadline had already passed — the discussion was brought to the attention of administration again in the fall of 2019, amid talks of a tuition increase and fee increases.

As it stands, only students who had registered for online classes prior to the COVID-19 outbreak paid a Distance Learning fee this term — students who were not originally planning to take online or hybrid classes were not subject to the Distance Learning fee this term, and as CCC continues through the pandemic with emergency remote teaching the fee will not be applied to students.

“I’d say 80% of our class was face-to-face, so they should only be getting charged 20% of an online fee, which would be about $4 or $5 [instead of $20],” Yannotta said, “So we really need to assess this fee because the structure right now just isn’t equitable.”

The CCC‌ Board of Education met on Wednesday, May 13 to address a few proposed amendments to the 2020-21 tuition and fees, including the proposal to eliminate the Distance Learning fee entirely for online and hybrid classes, to increase the General Student fee by $6 per credit instead of $3, and to waive the $30 College Services fee for students enrolled in summer term classes.

This story is developing and will be updated when the information about the board meeting becomes available.