Students raise concerns over potential Counseling Services changes

In a Counseling Services brochure dated last month, it was announced that SIUE Counseling Services would be adding visit, service and no-show fees. This has sparked discussion — and strong opinions — among many students.

“Beginning in Fall 2020, Counseling Services will be charging visit, service and no-show fees. Please call our office or visit our website for more specific details,” the brochure said.

Director of Counseling Services Courtney Boddie said this change is still being discussed, and nothing is set in stone as of right now.

“While it is true that Counseling and Health Services have a proposal for a co-pay model to manage the fall-out associated with the Illinois state minimum wage increase, the Board of Trustees decision not to increase tuition and fees and the on-going fiscal impact of the pandemic, ... no implementation plan is in place,” Boddie said in an email.

Eddie Smith, a freshman anthropology major from Alton, Illinois, said he thinks some of the fees would make sense, but certainly not all of them. Smith sees a therapist, but not through SIUE.

“I can understand the no-show fee, because that’s a normal thing for any doctor’s office, but paying for every session seems like it would make you need Counseling Services more [due to stress],” Smith said. “[My therapist] is free through insurance, and I don’t know how it would work there [at SIUE]. They should make sure they at least take insurance. Any medical cost is always way too expensive.”

Sophia Buehler, a senior psychology major from Carterville, Illinois, said she agreed with Smith, and thought no-show fees made sense. She raised concerns over being charged per visit as Counseling Services is currently covered in student fees.

“I can understand if they charge you for canceling at the last minute. They are still people and they need to make money, but I can’t imagine them charging in general up-front, because it’s factored into other fees, and it has been that way,” Buehler said.

Smith said he thought adding fees might stop some people from coming in because they wouldn’t have enough money.

“I just think it’s dumb that they’ll make it seem like an option, but then make it unattainable for certain groups of people,” Smith said.

The idea of having to suddenly pay up-front for something that was originally in student fees upset senior psychology major Henry Schilling, of Fosterburg, Illinois, who said there should be a change in student fees if Counseling Services implements this new plan. 

“I know there are fees like that with other therapists and other counseling services, mostly because they’re their own businesses, but it makes no sense if it’s something we already pay for in fees. I think [student fees] should change if these up-front fees get added, though I still don’t like how that takes away from it being a free service,” Schilling said.

Buehler said she had gone to Counseling Services at SIUE in the past, and she felt that the change in fees would be understandable if there was a change in how Counseling Services worked.

“I went once at the end of my sophomore year, and it was a group session. They don’t offer one-on-one sessions that often, as far as I’m aware. They offered them every two weeks, and I think that’s it. I guess I’ve been spoiled, but I used to go to a school where you’d get weekly or more one-on-one sessions for free,” Buehler said. “If they updated how they’re operating the one-on-ones, maybe people would think of the fee change as more of a positive.”

Junior Accounting Major Cecilia Ballard, of Brighton, Illinois, said she also thought a change to Counseling Services would make the fees seem more understandable. Ballard said student fees should decrease if a fee is added for each individual visit as well.

“If we already pay for it in student fees, then why would we pay for it twice? I didn’t even know it was paid for,” Ballard said. “If they have to pay for each visit, people might be less inclined to go do it, even if they really need it. And if we’ll have to pay for it, they should at least update the system they have currently. ”

For more information, view the August Counseling Services brochure or SIUE Counseling Service’s website.

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