They have to pay full fee on admission and then apply for reimbursement

For college students from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category in the State, fee payment entails increased financial burden and a tedious concession procedure from this year, due to a recent Government Order brought out as part of fiscal discipline.

The new rule says a student eligible for fee concession will have to pay the full fee amount at the time of admission to the college. He has to later apply for reimbursement, which will be credited to the bank account if he is found eligible.

This is a drastic change from the old system where students deposited a concessional fee, while the government reimbursed the remaining amount to the college directly.

While many poor students would find it difficult to deposit the entire course fee at the time of admission, the bigger problem is that every student who applies for reimbursement is no longer assured of getting it.

The Government Order makes it clear that it would depend on “merit and availability of funds”. This means that there would be a cut-off depending on the number of applicants and allocation of funds. Sources in the Social Welfare Department said this was necessary as the financial burden was heavy.

Sources said that a budget allocation of Rs. 154.63 crore had been made for reimbursement between 2004 and 2012, apart from an additional allocation of Rs. 110 crore.

“Despite this, there is an accumulated backlog of Rs. 271 crore payable to colleges,” he said. Sources alleged that many colleges had been deceiving students under the old system because they took full fee from the students citing delay in reimbursement as an excuse. Many colleges are now indifferent to the changes in the system as they have anyway been collecting full fees for several years now. A principal in Malleswaram claimed that colleges stood to lose in the earlier system. “If the student has paid the fee after deductions, he will not apply for the reimbursement. Since the colleges bear the reimbursed amount, they will not get anything from the Department of Social Welfare as the student will not apply for it,” he said.

However, poor students belonging to OBC community (barring those in category 1 who will continue to follow the old system) are worried because they can no longer apply for a course in the assurance of fee reimbursement.

Uma R., an arts student from Mysore, sought to know on what guarantee they should open a bank account as they may not get a refund.

Nandini R.K., a student in Gulbarga, said she had to pay the full semester fee of Rs. 628 while her seniors had paid only Rs. 150. “We had to pay an additional Rs. 500 to open a bank account and get a PAN card. Many of our parents cannot afford such expenses,” she rued.

The government, according to sources, is mulling reverting to the old system in all colleges in the State.