Feb 202012
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Few universities allow their students to have a meaningful say in fee discussions.

But at CSU, it’s something that has been around since the 1990s in the form of a 16-person student group called the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB). The campus organization is chaired by student government vice presidents and tasked with overseeing $40 million in student fee allocation.

“We’re very excited that we’re kind of leading the way for student input across the state,” said Rachel Roberson, the Associated Students of CSU’s vice president, who also serves as chair of SFRB. “ … I’ve been working with several universities across the state to carbon copy our process.”

Throughout each year, 16 different fee areas across the university report to SFRB about the state of their budgets, including places like the student recreation center and CSU Health Network.

“It’s part of their process where legally they cannot move those funds until the students have approved that money allocation,” Roberson said.

SFRB provides feedback to each fee area as necessary, and prepares a report on their findings on all groups for the ASCSU Senate. The student representatives review the information while they’re in session and determine whether or not to approve some and amend others.

After running their numbers by university CFO Lynn Johnson and Lory Student Center Director Mike Ellis, the legislative body sends its official opinion to the CSU administration. President Tony Frank and members of his cabinet present the final versions of the each fee area’s budget to the CSU System Board of Governors.

The process is fairly basic for those who submit regular budget reports, but others seeking a fee increase may experience a bit more drama along the way. SFRB has been known to shoot down proposals, sometimes in conjunction with the student Senate.

Once either SFRB or Senate disapproves, the fee area requesting a hike must drastically alter their proposal to stand any chance of getting approved by CSU’s administration or the Board of Governors.

All SFRB votes on budget proposals –– including ones that suggest fee hikes –– happen in two rounds. The first is preliminary, and the second, which all happen in April, is final.

“Most colleges don’t even separate student fees from tuition,” said Wendy Bowling, SFRB vice-chair. “We actually have a unique system in the fact that it gets to be reviewed by students, that students have a direct control over their student fees.”

The Office of Off-Campus Life recently proposed a $1.54 student fee increase. Monday night, they received first-round approval from SFRB.

From FY 2007-2012, student fees raised $277.25.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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