Proposed University of Connecticut fee changes would eliminate academic material and major-related service fees in the 2018-2019 academic year, reducing fee costs for thousands of students, said UConn Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan.
The proposed changes were highlighted in a series of town halls held on Tuesday, where the changes were presented to students and faculty in an open-forum style to allow for questions.
One proposition Jordan emphasized was the elimination of academic material fees, which cost students a collective $434,000 a year.
Academic material fees include laboratory fees, fees for academic materials and fees for certain majors, Jordan said. Nursing students are charged an additional $250 on top of their tuition, and landscape architecture students are charged an additional $700.
“When a student pays their tuition, they should get those services,” Jordan said. “We don’t want students and their families to feel nickled and dimed. [When] you’ve paid your tuition, you’ve paid enough.”
Those who take courses with academic charges or are in a major that previously had a fee applied to it will see a reduction in their overall mandatory fees, Jordan said.
“In the fall of 2018, the mandatory fee will stay the same for some,” Jordan said. “For most students, the fee will decrease due to the… fee elimination.”
These fees will be absorbed into the central university budget and will not affect tuition rates beyond the scheduled increases, Jordan said. Since the fees are paid by students, and not by state funds, recent state budget cuts will not affect the rate of the fees, Jordan said.
For many of the fees, the reduction in the cost of billing will be enough to recover the loss of revenue, Jordan said.
“The administrative cost alone may be sufficient to cover it,” Jordan said. “It’s just more trouble than it's worth. It doesn’t generate a lot of revenue.”
While these fees will reduce costs for many students, tuition, dining and residential service fees are still slated to increase, Jordan said. A new Recreation Center fee of $250 will be added for students attending UConn in the fall of 2019, upon the opening of the in-progress Rec Center, Jordan said.
Housing rates for students living in Charter Oak and Hilltop two bedroom-two person apartments are proposed to increase by up to 4%, according to Jordan’s town hall presentation, due to “high demand.”
In addition to the proposed fee eliminations and increases, the charge for student health services will be made separate from the General University Fund and made its own fee, Jordan said.
The General University Fee is a mandatory fee that funds student activities, UConn recreation, career services and other student services, Jordan said. Once Student Health Services, which includes Infirmary services and Counseling and Mental Health services, is made into its own fee, it will remove $580 from the General University Fee and create its own line-item, Jordan said.
While this will not change how much students are charged overall, creating a separate fee will increase transparency for what services students are charged, Jordan said.
“It’s important for students to know the process,” Jordan said.
Regional campuses will see about 75 percent of their General University Fees reallocated to their campuses so that program directors can use the fee for programming on their campus, Jordan said.
Originally, the fees went towards student activities both on regional campuses and at UConn Storrs, Jordan said, which is difficult for many regional campus students to access. Instead, the fees will go back to the campus for programs such as career development services, Jordan said.
Finally, while academic material fees will be eliminated, certain School of Business program fees, such as graduate programming in Human Resource Management, will be increased, according to Jordan’s presentation. However, this will be limited to graduate programs only.
The proposed changes will be submitted to the UConn Board of Trustees for approval on February 21st, according to UConn Today.
The fees were evaluated and reviewed by a committee formed by UConn President Susan Herbst last year, and is compirsed of students, faculty and staff, according to UConn Today.
The fees are reviewed on a yearly basis, Jordan said, in order to continually evaluate which charges are necessary, and which of them can be streamlined.
“We are excited about the opportunity to run the university as efficiently as we can,” Jordan said. “[We try] to cut fees when we can.”
Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.