Undergraduate students at the University of Utah were charged a new $30 Student Success Fee with their tuition this year. Unless they were part of the decision-making process or scoured the U’s Financial and Business Services (FBS) website, students weren’t aware of the added fee.
The U included the fee on the tuition bills of all undergraduate students, regardless of residency classification, and has a titular goal. The five targeted points for the incoming revenue are listed on the FBS website and include improving academic advising and its technology, offering more general education courses, expanding access to learning experiences beyond the classroom, promoting financial aid accessibility and increasing access to internships. However, the U will focus the majority of the funds on bolstering the Career Services Center and academic advising.
The decision to direct funding into those areas comes from annual meetings held by the U’s Budget and Planning offices of the University. During these forums, the colleges and student service groups across campus come together to talk about their needs and what they feel are students’ needs. Together, they identify gaps in undergraduate opportunities. In recent years, attendees pinpointed the Career Services Center and academic advising as areas needing improvement.
“We are trying to keep tuition as low as possible for students, but we also have some gaps in what we’ve been able to do for undergraduate students on our goals for retention and completion, which includes making sure that we have a really strong set of student advisors and also making a push for college to career transition,” said Cathy Anderson, Associate Vice President of Budget and Planning at the U.
Academic advising on campus assists students in choosing a major and subsequent class schedules, as well as directing students to financial aid and scholarships. The Career Services Center, located in the Student Services Building, can be important in the “college to career transition,” as it both locates and assists students in securing internships.
According to Anderson, the U will dedicate the remaining funds to developing “innovative strategies helping with retention and graduation,” including opening more sections of general education classes with high demands so that students can more quickly fulfill their requirements and graduate.
This fee is classified as a “program fee.” Before the Student Success Fee was approved, it was reviewed by a committee, which included student representatives. Program fees differ from general student fees in that they are reviewed every three years by this committee. If the $30 fee promotes significant change in the targeted areas and fulfills the outlined goals, Anderson believes that the fee could eventually be lifted.
Angela Zhu, a junior in biology, said: “It’s nice to know internships and other student resources will be funded for me and other students, and I think the thirty dollars was worth it, but I wish the University did a better job of informing me and other students about the fee.”