430.1 Fee Policy
Over the years various departments on campus have charged fees to students for a variety of reasons and purposes, but primarily to defray expenses incurred by departments for special activities or supplies, i.e. field trips, course materials, etc. Being able to charge fees has provided departments with a measure of flexibility and control over activities deemed important to the educational process but which were felt to be unattainable under existing budget constraints. In recent years a proliferation of many small fees has significantly complicated financial aid and accounting processes and has required a significant institutional effort to track, collect, manage, and refund when appropriate. In addition, there is some indication of parent and student surprise and displeasure when confronted with the need to pay fees which were not adequately communicated or planned for.
A task force (DeLane Graber, Galen Graber, Floyd Saner, Jim Histand) was asked by the provost to consider the possibilities of 1) consolidation of fees into one standard fee, 2) elimination of fees with a concurrent increase in tuition, 3) elimination of existing fees but charging a significant technology fee to all students. An initial draft of a policy proposed by the task force was revised after discussion by academic council and president’s council and after feedback from various campus individuals, including yearbook advisors and other professors. Also, further input was received from a listserv discussion on this topic. The policy below took into account the counsel which was given, although it does not incorporate all of the suggestions which were made.
Each department must plan and budget for their academic needs in the normal budget process under the supervision of the Academic Dean. A starting point for planning for the additional budget needed for next year would be to consider this year’s revenues raised from course fees by the department. This process allows for needs to be met but requires responsibility for careful planning and substantiation of appropriate rationale for each departmental need.
All required course fees are eliminated. Optional field trips or optional class activities which have a fee attached would be either paid directly by students participating in the activity to whomever the fee is payable or would be administered by the professor in charge of the activity who would be responsible to collect the fees and remit payment to the payee.
Students will be charged a technology fee each year. This both helps to raise moneys for needed campus technology but also communicates to students and parents the kind of campus Goshen College intends to be.
Yearbook fees, applied music fees, and parking fees will not be eliminated.
Yearbook fees can continue to be administered and collected by the accounting office. Some students wish to purchase a yearbook while others do not and eliminating the yearbook fee could create artificial demand for this item. Administration of the yearbook fee is not as difficult as other course fees since refunds are not prorated and students can sign up in registration line for the yearbook.
Applied Music fees should continue under current procedure. These require one-to-one contact and direct services from individual faculty and thus seem a legitimate additional cost item to those students who sign up for these services.
Parking fees should continue under current policy but be raised to a minimum of $25 per semester. Any fee less than $25 is considered to be essentially a nuisance to the college as the administration cost is likely higher than the fee itself. Additional funds raised with this higher parking fee should be earmarked and used to improve and maintain parking facilities on campus.
Exceptions to this policy could be appropriate for very large and expensive activities (i.e. courses requiring travel to other countries, etc.) but approval for these exceptions must be obtained from the academic dean and provost before special fees are assessed for these.
Elimination of SST surcharges involves larger issues of institutional philosophy and strategic planning and will not be considered in this document.
This proposal, if implemented, should be treated as a two-year experiment. Evaluation of this experiment would be the responsibility of the provost, in consultation with the academic dean.
Rationale for the proposals
According to our best estimates, elimination of all the smaller fees (with the exception of the yearbook, parking, and applied music fees) have a total budget cost of less than $50,000. On a per student basis this is approximately $50 per student or less and should be able to be included in tuition planning with minimal effect ($50 is less than ½ of 1% of tuition).
This elimination of small fees a) simplifies accounting and financial aid office time and costs and improves workload in two currently stressed areas, b) saves the college in many places where the cost to administer the fees are greater than the fees themselves (some currently as small as $3), c) eliminates the “nickel and dime” mentality that tends to aggravate or infuriate some students and parents, d) improves communication to and expectations of students and parents, e) puts responsibility on faculty for better planning and justification of educational needs.
A technology fee is needed because of the overall size of the funding required ($350,000 annually).
Addendum regarding point 7: The policy was reviewed in December of 2000 and reaffirmed by the Dean’s Committee, Financial Aid, Registrar’s Office and the President’s Council.