Student fees may not be used for what students think.
Every fall and spring semester CSU full-time paying students pay $390 in student fees.
This school year, the approximate expected total for student fees is just over $16 million. The total came from the amount full-time students pay per semester, multiplied by two semesters, and then multiplied by an estimated gross number of students, 20,700. This calculation does not include fees paid by part-time students.
The Student Fee Review Board has been responsible for allocating student fees since its creation in 1983.
Jesse Lauchner, the director of finance for the Associated Students of CSU, said student fees offer students a variety of services.
“These are things that are essential on campus to all students and that every student should have the ability to utilize,” Lauchner said. ‘That is really only made possible by student fees.”
Lauchner explained that because student fees are guaranteed, and they do not fluctuate with the economy like tuition. Because the amount of student fees rarely varies, it gives the university an opportunity to put together a system that is available to all students, he said.
According to the SFRB bylaws, the ASCSU Vice President, Jessica Chavez, serves as the chairperson.
The fall semester for SFRB is reserved for the presentations made by student fee-supported programs such of Athletics and the Lory Student Center. The presentations provide education and understanding of the programs.
“It gives the board an understanding about what the department does and how it will be a service to students,” said Mark Denke, assistant vice president to student affairs, who serves on SFRB as an ex-official member, meaning he does not have a vote.
After all the programs give their presentations, in the spring semester the SFRB receives budget assumptions and enrollment projections for the near year. Each program then submits a budget that is reviewed by the appropriate Student Advisory Committee. Then it is submitted to the Vice President for Student Affairs Linda Kuk, prior to the SFRB.
Traditionally, programs can only ask for an increase that is equal to the Consumer Price Index, which is a number set by the state to subsidize inflation. Last year, this index was 4.7 percent. This year, that number should be around 1.9. Any increase requests over the index must be approved by the ASCSU senate.
The SFRB hears the budget presentations for each area and votes to recommend a request for fee increases.
Finally all fee schedules and budgets are reviewed by Kuk and then sent to the Executive Budget Committee, an administration committee overseen by Kuk.
So what do student fees actually pay for students?
The over $2 million of student fees given to Athletics allow student to attend home games without addition charges. The $2.8 million given to the Lory Student Center pays for the administration and personal salaries and payment on the bond used to pay for the construction of the student center.
The health center, which receives around $4 million yearly, offers student a wide range of medical treatment.
Stephen Blom, the director of Hartshorn Health Services, said that amount only covers 60 percent of the operating cost of the health center.
“We receive (the rest of our income) from fees and sales such as prescription medicine and X-rays,” Blom said.
According to the health center’s budget, the center received $2.25 million in sales as compared to the $4.2 million the center expects to receive in student fees.
Blom said the amount students pay to the health center helps subsidize services the health center provides.
Though usually viewed as a student organization, ASCSU is more correctly a student fee funded program. Collecting $22.58 every semester from every full paying student, ASCSU receives approximately $935,000.
From that amount, CSU’s student government is contracted to pay Fort Collins’ bus service, Transfort, each year, allowing students to ride buses without further charges. For this year, ASCSU paid Transfort $638,543. Also out of ASCSU’s budget comes $100,000 for the student funding board, which allocates money to various student organizations. The other $200,000 is spent on office expenses, salaries and other things.
Because student fees are controlled mostly by student input, unlike tuition, students have more control of what their fees go toward.
“I think that tuition is viewed as payment for the academic experience that you get here, and student fees guarantee all the other different services on campus,” Lauchner said.
Lauchner added that students fees can be regulated, unlike tuition, thus ensuring that fee-supported programs will have money every year.
According to Lauchner and Denke, CSU surpassed most universities across the nation when dealing with student involvement in student fees uses.
Denke credits ASCSU for the way student fees are handled.
“CSU has a strong history of having responsible leadership, and there is no exception of Jessica (Chavez),” said Denke. “Not many institutions have groups like SFRB.”
Denke has served as assistant vice president of student affairs for eight years.
“I personally think they (student fees) are handled very well,” said Lauchner. “If you look at other universities across the nation, most other places don’t have this much of an input for students. In every single level in which student fees come in, there is student input, and I think that is a pretty amazing process as compared to other universities across the nation.”
-Edited by Colleen Buhrer, Shandra Jordan and Becky Waddingham