Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Student Choice Initiative (SCI)?
In late March 2019, the provincial government released guidelines to the post-secondary sector which provided new direction to universities and colleges on how to treat student ancillary fees. In these guidelines, universities are required to designate mandatory and non-mandatory fees. For mandatory ancillary fees, students will have to continue to pay for these programs, services or costs as they always have. For non-mandatory fees, students will be given the option to opt-out of fees they would have paid for in the past.
What are considered mandatory services or fees under the SCI?
According to the Government of Ontario’s Tuition Fee Framework and Ancillary Fee Guidelines document, “essential” services (at UWindsor, we are designating these services “mandatory”) include:
- Academic Support;
- Athletics and Recreation;
- Campus Safety;
- Career Services;
- Financial Aid Offices;
- Health and Counselling;
- Student Achievement and Records;
- Student Buildings; and
- Student ID Cards.
Services are deemed “mandatory” by individual institutions in accordance with the categories in this established provincial framework.
What is an ancillary fee?
The provincial government defines an ancillary fee as: a fee imposed or administered by a given institution, or one of its constituent parts or its federated or affiliated institutions, in addition to regular tuition fees, which a student pays for a service or product.
Examples of a mandatory ancillary fee at UWindsor are: the UWSA’s Walk Safe program (captured under “campus safety programs” category in the provincial guidelines), the Medical Office fee (captured under “health and counselling” category).
Examples of a non-mandatory ancillary fee at UWindsor are any fees which are not captured as mandatory as indicated in the guidelines. This includes but is not limited to: academic society fees, fees for social activities (year-end galas), support offices that do not have medical or certified mental health professionals working in them (the UWSA’s Pride Centre, the Womxn’s Centre, and the Food Pantry).
How do I opt-out of non-mandatory ancillary fees?
Until October 2, you will be able to sign in to UWinsite Student and under the Financial Account tab, you will see a new tab designated as the Student Choice Initiative Form. Click on this and you will have the opportunity opt-out of all non-mandatory ancillary fees. The opt-out system is straightforward. If you do not know what any particular fee is for, please click on the “details” button on the right-hand side of the form and more information, including links to the organizations and programs the fees are funding, are provided.
For more information about the SCI opt-out process, please review this ask.UWindsor article.
If I opt-out of a fee, can I opt back in if I change my mind?
Until October 2, you can go back into your UWinsite Student account and change your opt-out choices. After October 2, you will have the chance to opt-out of any ancillary fees that are a part of your Winter term fees, which will be due in mid-December. During the winter term, you will again be given time to change your opt-out choices in January 2020.
If I don’t opt-out by October 2, can I retroactively go back after this date and opt-out?
No. If you do not opt-out by October 2, you will lose the opportunity to opt-out of your non-mandatory fees for the fall term. The next opportunity you will have to opt-out will be when you go to pay your fees for the upcoming winter term.
Opting out will mean reduced funding for any non-mandatory service or program. Will this affect the status of some of the services and programs students access on our campus?
Yes. While it is great to have choices and as students, saving money is important, it is also important to consider your community and your peers. The University will not designate any one service or program as more important than others, but it will note that many of the non-mandatory services that you can now opt-out of play important functions in our community. In many cases, these services, programs and offices are critical to individuals and groups of people on our campus. Please give careful and thoughtful consideration should you choose to opt-out of any programs and services.
Should you have questions regarding the services these organizations provide, visit these sites:
- University of Windsor Students’ Alliance (UWSA)
- Graduate Student Society (GSS)
- Organization of Part-time University Students (OPUS)
How did the University choose which fees would be mandatory and non-mandatory?
The provincial government provided clear guidelines regarding what ancillary fees will be mandatory. Over the course of several months, additional direction has come from the province and through discussions in the university sector to address questions about how to categorize various fees. The University of Windsor has designated the fees according to this direction so we are compliant with the provincial guidelines and are consistent with the decisions made by other universities in the province.
As additional information comes forward from the province and other sources, adjustments will be made accordingly.
Will the bus pass remain a mandatory program?
The Universal Bus Pass program (UPASS) is exempt from the SCI. All aspects of this program will remain the same as years past. The UWSA will continue to administer this program including the opt-out component.
Will the student association drug and dental plans be affected by the SCI?
No. These programs are exempt from the SCI and will function as they have in years past. Your respective student association (UWSA, GSS, OPUS) will continue to administer these programs.
What will happen to my ancillary fees if I drop courses and become a part-time student?
If you are full-time student and drop courses and become a part-time student or should you be a part-time student who adds courses and then becomes a full-time student, your account on UWinsite Student will be updated automatically to reflect this change and you will have until October 2nd to select which non-mandatory fees you don’t want to pay for, if any. Please allow up to three business days for your student account in UWinsite Student to reflect your changed status.
Is the SCI applicable to all students at UWindsor?
Yes. All students – undergrads, grad students, part-time students, and exchange students have to pay ancillary fees as has always been the case. When you sign into UWinsite Student, the opt-out module will recognize your student status and opt-out options will reflect this status.
Will academic societies and student clubs funding be impacted by the SCI?
Yes. Society and club funding fees which are collected and distributed by the UWSA will be considered non-mandatory, so there will be reduced funding for these organizations. What value the reduction will be cannot be anticipated. It is recommended that students leading a society or club be cautious with their budget plans for the fall term and perhaps even the winter term until it becomes clear what percentage of students will opt-out of these fees. In the Fall, societies and clubs may wish to interact with their fellow students with the goal of encouraging them to support student life in their programs, faculties and across the broader community.
Additional Information and Enquiries:
This page will be updated as additional information becomes available. Email updates and articles in the Student Experience bi-weekly newsletter will be provided as well to advise students of what the SCI will mean for them.
Enquires about the opt-out process can be directed to the firstname.lastname@example.org.