Students should have more time for a 100% refund

Kai Brito, Contributor

Have you ever needed to drop a class during your semester? Many students have before, due to schedule changes with work, a change in academic major, realizing they have a heavy course load or just unforeseen circumstances.
Dropping a course is not something that students take lightly and they must conduct their own cost-benefits analysis to determine whether it’s the right choice for them. But to add on top of the mental anguish that students face, they must also consider the financial consequences of that decision.
As it stands currently, if a student were to drop a course in the first week of the term, they would only get 80% of the tuition and fees refunded. The Madison College ruling is that you will receive an 80% refund if you drop class before 11% of the class is completed.
However, that rule is actually dictated by a state law.
Madison College is a member of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), which is the coordinating and oversight body for Wisconsin’s 16 public, two-year technical colleges. The WTCS has specific guidelines for how refunds can be granted at its member technical colleges and those rules are published into Wisconsin State Law under the Wisconsin Administrative Code.
Under TCS 10.08(3)(c)1, “80% of program fees, material fees and out-of-state tuition if application for refund is made before or at the time 10% of the course’s total hours of instruction have been completed.”
I believe that this rule needs to be changed to better accommodate the needs of students. We should have seven days after the first day of class to receive a 100% refund of tuition and fees if a class is dropped.
My ask of seven days is reasonable and fair, given that students likely haven’t even learned much content yet in the classes since the first day generally covers course guidelines and instructor expectations outlined in the syllabus.
In fact, other academic institutions in the local area have adopted similar policies compared to what I am proposing:
• UW-Madison: Classes dropped in the first or second week of the term may qualify for an adjustment of 100% of the difference between old and new rates.
• Edgewood College: Seven days plus a federal holiday in the Spring 2022 semester.
• Lakeland University: 100% refund for dropping before the start of the second week of classes.
As a community college, we must pay attention to the needs of our student community. And affordability is among the highest needs of students right now.

Editor’s note: Kai Brito was recently elected to serve as Vice President of Administration and Finance for the Student Senate.