Student fees explained

In the wake of budget cuts, university officials are brainstorming ways to save money in the state’s uncertain economy.  In late February, the Board of Regents approved a 5 percent tuition increase to take effect fall 2015 to counteract the financial shortfall. As students prepare for these increased expenses in the coming academic year, some may be surprised to learn about the smaller costs being added to the mandatory student fees. With each credit hour, mandatory fees increase — which can add up to, in some cases, more than $400 each semester.

One fee to note, the facilities fee, is increasing by $2. The facilities fee, one of the most expensive mandatory fees, is used to support facility renovation and infrastructure renewal. The fee is being raised from $4 a credit hour — applicable for students enrolled in up to 15 credits regardless of class delivery mode — to $6 a credit hour in the upcoming academic year. For a student taking 15 or more credits each semester, the facilities fee will increase $30, from $60 this year to $90 in the upcoming year.

Combined with the other mandatory fees the cost begins to add up.

University of Alaska President Pat Gamble issued the facilities fee Aug. 7, 2014. The fee would be raised by $2 every semester until being capped at $6 in the fall semester of 2015.

“The origin of (the fee) started on the Fairbanks campus and was collection for the power plant to keep funding. The way we use it on the Anchorage campus is for projects that enhance the campus for students by a safety aspect or any aspect,” said Ryan Buchholdt, Facilities and Campus Services business manager. “We are going to be installing LED parking lot lights in all the parking lots. They cost less, improve visibility and reduce issues with maintenance … that’s just one way we are using the funds. There is more money going towards the academic side rather than the back of house.”

Parking lot lights will be changed this summer in addition to lighting upgrades in Rasmuson Hall Room 101.

Many students notice the fees but fail to take advantage of the projects and facilities they go toward. Logistics student Matthew Newkirk pays little attention to the fees but is apathetic to increases.

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“I have looked at the fees and the amounts somewhat. I take advantage of some more than others. Since people don’t/can’t usually abstain raising them a little, they probably wouldn’t be rejected. It would be great if there was more information on why the increase was happening though,” Newkirk said.

Mandatory student fees apply to all students enrolled in three or more credits, with the exception of the Facilities and Technology fees, which are applied at the first credit a student takes. There are nine mandatory fees.

One of the mandatory fees is the ePortfolio Fee, which is used to UAA’s software license of the ePortfolio service.  The fee is a flat $8. The service allows for students to create their own online portfolios.

The Green Fee is another mandatory student fee. The fee is set up for students who have a sustainable initiative or idea to use to make UAA a more sustainable and green campus. Some of the programs that have been funded by the Green Fee include the bike share program that allows students to check out bikes on campus.

The next fee is the Concert Board Fee, a $10 flat rate fee that allows UAA Concert Board to sponsor a variety of concerts including the Campus Kick-Off Comedy Show, A Cappella Festivella, Homecoming and Winterfest concerts and more.

In addition to the previous fees, students are also charged a $1 per credit Student Government Fee. The fee supports USUAA and the organizations that operate under them.

Students are also responsible for paying an $11 flat Media Fee that supports KRUA 88.1 FM and The Northern Light. The fee is split evenly between the two organizations.

UAA students must also pay a Student Transportation fee that allows students to use the Seawolf Shuttle or take the People Mover buses for free. The fee also helps pay for pedestrian transportation services like bicycle racks, escorts and trail maintenance.

The technology fee is just another one of the many fees students pay each semester. This fee starts when students take just one credit and is $5 per credit. The technology fee helps pay for Internet, IT services, and up-to-date software and equipment.

One group of fees can rack up to $270 — the Student Life fees. Student Life Fees encompass the Athletics/Recreational Sports fee, Student Activities Fee and the Student Health and Counseling Services Fee.

The Athletics/Recreational Sports fee allows students to use the recreation facilities around campus including the Alaska Airlines Campus Fitness and Recreation Center and the auxiliary gym and the multitude of offerings at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. The fee also allows students to get into UAA sporting events for a free or reduced price. The fee is $9 per credit and is split $5.40 for athletic events and $3.60 for recreational use.

Student Life fees also go towards Student Activities. Student Activities organize and support Campus Kick-Off, Homecoming, Winterfest and a variety of other events throughout the year. In addition, Student Activities funds the Publicity Center, which UAA clubs can use to get the word out for free and the Student Union Gallery.

Lastly, the Student Life fee includes the Student Health and Counseling Services fee which is $10 per credit. The fee helps support the Student Health and Counseling Center in Rasmuson Hall. Student may use the center for a variety of services including testing, check-ups, counseling and more for a free or reduced price.

In addition to these mandatory fees, course fees are commonly added to student’s bills depending on what courses they take. These fees include the e-learning fee, which is $25 a credit for every distance class taken by the student, and the lab fees which pays for the supplies in many science and art classes and varies in price from course to course.

Christina Johnson, adjunct professor for the department of social sciences for UAA’s Mat-Su College, has been teaching distance courses for Mat-Su College over the last two years and is continuing through the summer in solely distance education.

“I wasn’t even aware of this fee. I’m not sure where that money goes. It would be helpful to have more information about what this money is used for available for students,” Johnson said.

Along with tuition these mandatory student fees provide students with resources that can be taken advantage of when enrolled in three or more credits.

To find more information on student fees visit http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/records/registration/semester-expenses.cfm