A Refund Not Worth the Paper It’s Printed On
This doesn’t make any cents.
By Kyle Khachadurian
I came home from work to find an envelope from the New York City Department of Education on our kitchen table. It was addressed to my mother. Oh, we have a small balance due on my sister’s tuition, CUNY always gets you one last time before graduating! But what was inside was even better.
Growing up, my sister’s school forced us to fill out free lunch forms, even though we never qualified for it by any definition. New school year, sign the form, rinse, repeat. This continued through high school, it became part of the ritual along with hurriedly buying the same school supplies year over year.
In that envelope was a notice that we had overpaid, but it wasn’t on my sister’s college tuition. Instead, we’d overpaid by a massive sum of sixty cents for the lunch program, over the course of the years between grade school through high school.
To claim the money, we would have had to fill out a form, with likely more steps after that.
If nothing else, this was humorous to us. A stamp costs $0.50. The piece of paper it’s printed on is around a penny. The ink used is likely around the same cost. This is just the raw materials to get the letter to us, and we’re already close to our balance. We have 8 cents remaining and haven’t said anything about the labor and manhours of everyone involved to get the letter to us.
We’re not the only family this has happened to, with reports as low as $0.05.
Does this make sense to any of you?
Put the accumulated balances under $5 into the general school budget or use the money to pay off accounts with small overdrafts. Add them all up and hire a consultant to explain why mailing out IOUs for pennies is a terrible idea. Something. Anything but what the DoE has come up with would make more sense.