Head To Head – Do We Really Need All These Student Fees?

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Fees Invest in Students’ Futures

by Emma Tanner

I’m sure I’m not the only college student peeved to hear that tuition and other student fees are still on a rapid incline. As if college students aren’t struggling enough, right? But while we do invest a great deal financially into higher education, and I’m sure a good chunk of our payments go towards things some of us wouldn’t totally approve of, there is general rationale to be found to back up the seemingly greedy and unfair boosts in mandatory payments.

I know we all stress over the costs of education, but it should be considered that a fair portion of our student fees go towards scholarships and grants for other future students. Now, I do realize that many students enrolled here at the U aren’t backed financially by scholarships and may not receive returns on tuition in that regard. But, to me, it is nice to know that the money I’m putting into enrollment is benefiting another individual through granting them the potential for a very good advanced education, which, hopefully, will lead to bigger and better things down the road for both them and society.

Some students complain that certain departments and sponsored affiliations seem to rake in a great deal more of the university’s distributed budget than others. Athletic programs may be prioritized financially over, say, the liberal arts departments. And while it does make me sad that one department or sector should seem more important than another, I do see a reason to the madness: recruitment. While the U, in my opinion, is a well-rounded educational institution with great facilities and resources, we are known for some things that play a role in generating appeal, especially out of state. As I understand it, we, as a university, work to stand out in order to stay in the running for the most sought after student population that will generate the most success. So, it may be that we need to ensure that we’re emphasizing and investing more in our current strengths – medicine, business, athletics – because that’s where we’ll likely see the greatest returns, both financially and in terms of success through graduation rates, research contributions, etc.

People also seem to get the same salty taste in their mouths when they see expensive facilities go up that may be irrelevant to them. Again, sometimes the university board has to think about what investments will benefit the most people. And again, this ties in to recruitment and overall student satisfaction. And while you might not use something like the Student Life Center every day, or even at all, it plays a role in desired recruitment. In this case, with the Student Life Center, the U is showing its support for a healthy, balanced lifestyle among its students. It’s showing that there’s more to the college experience than working your butt off in the classroom – that balance and mental health are just as important. And this message is appealing to a lot of students, myself included. So, while not everyone benefits directly from the weights, pool and track available at our on-campus rec. center, the fact that it draws in students who share in the value of health (both mental and physical) the way our university is perceived is enhanced, which, in turn, affects every student positively.

So, personally, I don’t have a problem paying student fees as long as I feel they aren’t excessive and their outgoings are worthwhile. I want to know that what I’m putting my educational fees into is helping myself, my university and my fellow students. And as long as that’s the case, I’m happy to oblige without too much complaint.

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Fees Block Personal Priorities

by Peyton Dalley

On top of the thousands of dollars owed in tuition, we are given a small black line entitled “Student Fees.” They are added to the bill of every student on campus and are hardly worth what they cost.

Overall, student fees exist so we can use equipment and facilities at the U. While we may have gotten away with a $10 art fee in high school, the availability of Apple- and Android-based equipment on campus makes student fees necessarily higher. In some cases, student fees are used for sports programs or other activities here on campus, such as “Crimson Nights” and “Pancakes on the Plaza.”

However, aside from these fun and totally inclusive campus events, a main portion of student fees are used for building and equipment. The true problem arises with the question: how much is enough? The benefits gained by students are often not enough to account for the mandatory cost of student fees. I’m a communications major who racked up just over $100 in student fees, and for what? Seeing as I supply my own equipment (laptop, books, supplies), why is so much taken out? I don’t participate in labs nor do I make heavy use of the U’s publicly available equipment.

Should each department charge the same amount for student fees? It’s no secret that the sports department gets the most funding, while the arts department barely scrapes by. Fees should instead be based on the amount needed for each department and the equipment that is used by its majors and participants — and not on how much money a particular program generates for the school.

I don’t need to be an economics or finance major to see that the student fees I’m forced to pay could be going toward something more personally useful. Whether this means meaningless spending on recreational activities, or an extra coffee and bagel in between classes, it’s clear that I should have the ability to choose whether I must pay overpriced fees to use the U’s equipment or just stick with my own.

What will the future hold for student fees? I couldn’t tell you. However, I believe they are ridiculous. I live my life in moderation, and the money I’d save by not paying fees would certainly help with other, more personally pressing expenses. For now I will continue to pay them (because I have no choice) and continue to daydream about extra coffee in class.

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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