Student fees are changing again. Here’s what you need to know.
The Board of Trustees Finance and Administration Committee voted unanimously on Sept. 30 to approve a resolution to temporarily lower mandatory student fees. The final resolution will be voted on by the full board at the upcoming Oct. 15 meeting.
Here are recommended changes to student fees:
- Student building fee
- Current rate: $39 per student
- Revised rate: $20 per student
- $19 reduction
- Incidental fee
- Current rate: $296 per student
- Revised rate: $271 per student
- $25 reduction
The student building fee goes towards construction and renovation projects on campus, and the incidental fee goes towards services like resource centers, childcare facilities and athletic activities. The Student Fee Committee, which is responsible for recommending the amount and allocation of both fees, recommended the reductions to the board.
Other fees, such as the Student Health Center fee and the Campus Recreation Center fee, will remain unchanged. Over the course of the pandemic, various reductions have been made to student fees. However, some fees have been reapplied, such as the Rec Center fee, which was waived at the onset of the pandemic when the center was closed. The Rec Center has since reopened to all students.
Student Fee Committee Town Hall
The SFC held a virtual town hall forum on Oct. 8 to address student questions and concerns about mandatory student fees.
Are there any changes to the fees for students who are 100% remote? Are there any fees or services to opt out of to save some money while we aren’t on campus?
SFC: No. If you are 100% remote, you can still use all the services and programs that these fee-funded areas have offered. Service coordinators have done a lot of work to try and make sure that they can translate everything that they are providing to students to an online format.
Have these fee reductions already been applied to student accounts for fall term?
SFC: No. The recommendation still has to be approved by the Board of Trustees. The changes have been approved by the Financial and Administration Committee, but they haven’t reached the final vote by the full board. The final vote will take place on Thursday, Oct. 15.
Why have fees gone up when less people are able to use the services?
SFC: The answer is two-fold. First of all, the fees here were actually determined by last year’s SFC. By the time that the fees were determined, in Oct. 2019, we didn’t have any idea about what would happen with the pandemic. So the determination for that was done pre-COVID. Additionally, while the question suggests that there are less people to use the services, that is actually a misconception, because most, if not all, of the services offered by the fee-funded areas are now all available online. Any services and opportunities that you were able to reach on campus are now available through online services. As for those services that are not available to provide online services, we have subtracted those from the budget, and we are refunding those to students starting this term.
What are some fees that were paid for services that cannot be used?
SFC: All the fees that were not able to be used for online services are actually subtracted from the departmental budgets and now are being refunded to students. So those fees that we are not using are being refunded.
How can I opt out of services that I don’t use, like the Student Health Center or the Recreation Center?
SFC: No one has the option to opt out of mandatory fees. It is part of being a student at PSU. Whether you are using them or not, you have to pay the mandatory fees. While you may not be using the buildings, we still need to pay the debt which we have taken to build those buildings.
Are there any other options for students who already have their own fitness membership outside of campus who don’t want to use the Recreation Center?
SFC: No. We’ve gotten a lot of complaints about this, and we’re sorry. You might want to think about cancelling your membership and using the Recreation Center. They currently have in-person and online options. You can take virtual classes and or use the facilities in-person. They adhere to social distancing and keep everything very clean.
Why are student fees separated from tuition costs?
SFC: Tuition deals with academic costs like professors and classrooms. The student fees were created to pay for student extracurricular activities. The SFC was created separately from tuition so students could have a voice in what they want their fees to be spent on.
How does the SFC evaluate the budget proposal from each department and decide on how to allocate funding?
SFC: At the beginning of the year, the SFC creates funding philosophies, and we use those philosophies to help us decide what to fund and what not to fund. We also think about what will help the cultural development of students on campus.
Where does the student incidental fee go when everything is virtual?
SFC: People still have to get paid when things are virtual. People still have contracts when things are virtual. People still have programs and services while things are virtual. So the fee goes towards the same services as usual.
The event ended with a comment from a student: “Another aspect of the student fee funds is student resources and campus life activities that research shows supports students at being successful in so many ways outside of the classroom.”
“It’s the truth,” said SFC chair Kierra Wing, “We don’t [attend PSU] to just learn. It’s also about the bonds and the community and for the opportunities and the cool people we meet. That’s what a lot of these fee funded areas provide, and it’s so important.”