I got the first bill from BARC, the tuition billing system at UCSB. I can see now why students give up on trying to understand what the university costs—the bill is rather confusing.
There were CA Res U/G Fees-New $4,520.05, Undergrad Health Ins-Fall $856.00, H&RS-Rm & Bd-Dorm $5,202.94, RHA Activ Fee $30.00, and Contract Processing Fee – On $50.00; for a total of $10,658.99 for Fall quarter. Assuming no changes, that would come to just under $32k for the year. With books and computer, the college expenses for the first year will be about $35k.
Only the “CA Res U/G Fees-New” had further details on what the charge consisted of, and that only through a doubly indirect web pointer.
After reading the bill, I had several questions that I asked via e-mail:
- Which meal plan did he sign up for? The $5,202.94 price seems to be between the costs quoted on http://www.housing.ucsb.edu/rates for double room unlimited and double room 17 meals. I assume that there is some variation from quarter to quarter on price, based on number of meal times, but the rates aren’t broken down by quarter and the bill doesn’t say which meal plan, so I’m not sure what we are paying for.
- We requested a student health insurance waiver and appealed the rather arbitrary initial denial (which was an incomplete form e-mail that just complained about the Blue Shield phone number that we had provided). When will we hear on the appeal of the waiver? Do we need to pay now and get a credit when the appeal goes through?
- The link to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/feechart.htm redirects to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/feechart.aspx which just has a pointer to http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/downloads/2014-15final.pdf Why not just point to the right document on the bill without double indirection?
- The fees at http://registrar.sa.ucsb.edu/downloads/2014-15final.pdf gives the campus total as $4,620.05 but the bill is for $4,520.05 Where is the $100 discrepancy?
- What is the unexplained “Contract Processing Fee – On” charge on the bill? There is no mention of this on the document explaining the fees.
- Is there an easy way to transfer money directly from the Scholarshare 529 plan to UCSB, or do I need to write a check and wait for Scholarshare to reimburse me?
- We were told that the summer orientation charges would appear on the BARC bill, but I don’t see them. Is there a revised bill coming?
The student health insurance is a particularly annoying charge, as we already have UC insurance for him through my employment at UCSC. But they have cleverly handed over the processing of student health insurance waivers to Aetna, the company that sells the student health insurance, setting up a massive conflict of interest and ensuring that students seeking waivers will be maximally hassled. Since the initial denial of the waiver came on a Sunday evening, I believe that Aetna processes them somewhere in Asia (where it would have been a Monday morning). The sloppiness with which the form email was filled out (blanks not filled in and spelling errors) makes me dread ever having to deal with Aetna for the student health insurance—they’ve already established themselves in my mind as bureaucratically incompetent, and even competent health insurers are a nightmare to deal with.