In a move financially affecting students, Colorado State University is discontinuing its Learning Assistance Service program.
The program used to be cost-free – students were able to seek diagnosis as a benefit paid with student fees.
However, with this change students will now pay a sliding fee – based on income – for diagnosis. The fees are calculated by counselors at the initial appointment, based on financial documentation provided by students.
Rhondda Walker, accommodation and advocacy specialist for resources for disabled students, said she did not have a cost estimate, or range of cost, for a single diagnosis.
Previously listed as a program of Counseling Services, the Learning Assistance Service, or LAS, provided preliminary diagnostic testing for students who have been experiencing difficulties with learning, focus, attention and visual perception.
If students received a diagnosis with a disability, they were referred to Resources for Disabled Students for further assistance. If not, they were referred to the appropriate resources to help further with their needs.
The program also benefited struggling students after diagnosis through counseling and provided instruction resources for students in areas such as reading, note-taking and time-management.
As part of this change, requests will be filtered through Resources for Disabled Students, who will then refer students to the Psychological Services Center for a diagnosis. After this process, resources will be fit for each student’s needs.
While much of the resources available to students remain the same, the initial cost of seeking assistance with a diagnosis may sway students from finding help.
“Now it’s a cost, which is unfortunate,” said Walker, “Because I think still there’s going to be students who choose not to follow through because they don’t have the finances.”
The change was confirmed in an email obtained by The Collegian on Sept. 1.
The email, sent from Counseling Services’ Senior Staff Psychologist Dr. Cindy Swindell to her staff, notes the change was necessary for the department in order to keep up with increasing demand of services.
“Counseling Services is overwhelmed with the mental health needs of our students, no matter how we try to keep up with demand,” Swindell wrote in the email. “…While LAS-type services are very important to our students, it’s time for another agency to offer them.”
In an email from Director of Counseling Services Dr. Susan MacQuiddy, she provided an overlook of why the change was proposed.
“Use of the counseling center has risen about 10 percent per year for the last five years,” MacQuiddy wrote.
Even with the demand, she stated that resources are in place to help students. On-call services are available to students 24/7 both on campus and by phone after hours. MacQuiddy said no students are turned away from Counseling Services.
“We want students who are struggling with mental health and stress issues to be successful at CSU and to access our service,” MacQuiddy wrote. “By refocusing only on mental health issues, we’re freeing up additional time to serve our students’ mental health needs.”
Rhondda Walker, accommodation and advocacy specialist for resources for disabled students, spoke about how the change will affect students.
“Of course there’s the cost,” Walker said. “However, it’s still going to be more affordable for a student to use this service as opposed to going off campus to a private diagnostician.”
Collegian reporter Dan DeHerrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thedanwrites.