Each semester students at the University of Georgia pay a series of mandatory fees totaling $2,246 in addition to this year’s tuition.
UGA experienced a slight hike in fees this year marking a nearly 35 percent increase from $1,666 five years ago, according to the UGA FactBook. Students taking summer courses are required to pay additional summer fees at 2/3 the cost of the fall semester rate.
Overall, Associate Vice Chancellor for Fiscal Affairs and Budget Director at the University System of Georgia Tracey Cook said the fees charged by UGA run fairly middle ground when compared to peer institutions — within USG, UGA’s $2,246 compares to a $2,392 total per year at the Georgia Institute of Technology and $2,128 at Georgia State University.
“I do think student fees are an integral part of the learning experience for students,” Cook said. “And I think when students select institutions they look at programs and amenities offered at the various institutions.”
All of the fees, she said, originate at the institutional level and go through a series of steps, including a committee made up of at least 50 percent students, the only exception being the Special Institutional Fee.
The Special Institutional Fee was implemented in the wake of the economic downturn as a way to mitigate extensive cuts to higher education funding. The fee, broadly, is “available to support any level of operations that would be appropriate for any educational and general fund source,” according to documents obtained by The Red & Black.
“I’m sure quite a bit of the funding went toward maintaining faculty in the classroom and maintaining quality in the classroom,” Cook said.
But the lack of specificity regarding how the money is allocated is one of the primary reasons senior international affairs and history major Jordan Richardson said he takes issue with the fee.
“If part of the Special Institutional Fee is going to something I’m not happy with, I need to at least be allowed to know where it’s going,” the Good Hope resident said. “It is almost $1,000 and I don’t know what it’s being used for, yet I have weeks where I can’t buy groceries and that $1,000 could be incredibly important to me.”
Richardson said he does not mind paying fees for services he uses but does not like that he is required to pay for those he does not.
“I use the buses so I don’t have a problem paying for the buses. I use the computers and the technology labs so I don’t have a problem paying for that,” he said. “I, however, don’t care about the [athletic] program so I don’t like paying for it.”
Senior international affairs and German major from Suwanee Melissa Rary agreed, saying students who don’t, for example, attend any athletic events should not have to pay the corresponding fee.
“I’m not sure how I feel about students having to pay fees or tuition for something that we should be given from the state in general,” she said, adding about the Special Institutional Fee, “It kind of is annoying that someone would say ‘OK we are just going to implement these fees and not ask the students about it because I feel like we are the one things the University is here for.”
Though fees and tuition have both undergone a series of increases over the years, Cook said USG makes an effort to keep costs low.
“It is important that education is affordable to the citizens of Georgia,” Cook said.
Activity – “The Student Activity Fee provides for direct funding to registered student organizations,” said Stan Jackson, director of student affairs communications and marketing initiatives in an email to The Red & Black. He said other programs and departments partially or wholly funded by the activity fee include the Tate Student Center, the Dean of Students Office, the Center for Student Organizations, and the LGBT Resource Center. It also “provides free or reduced price admission to programs provided by the Department of Student Activities….” according to the Bursar’s Office website. The activity fee is $78 was $78 in fall 2014 and $78 in spring 2015.
Athletic – “Provides free or reduced price admission to UGA athletic events,” according to the Bursar’s Office website. The athletic fee was $53 in fall 2014 and $53 in spring 2015.
Connect UGA fee – This fee goes towards funding ConnectUGA, the new “integrated student information system” at UGA, according to the ConnectUGA website. The Connect UGA fee was $18 in fall 2014 and $18 in spring 2015.
Green – The green fee is designated to help fund UGA’s Office of Sustainability’s new and existing programs for reducing UGA’s environmental footprint in addition to supporting “student internships in the Office of Sustainability, student research grants/service grants and environmental education initiatives,” according to the Bursar’s Office website. The green fee was $3 in fall 2014 and $3 in spring 2015.
Health – The health fee goes toward offsetting the cost of the University Health Center, according to the UHS website. Services supported by the health fee include discounted rates for primary care and specialty services, urgent care on weekday evenings and Sundays, health promotion and wellness education, the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Office and mandatory immunization review and online alcohol and sexual education clearance. The health fee was $196 in fall 2014 and $196 in spring 2015.
Recreation – “This fee provides revenue to assist in the operations of the Recreational Sports Department, including intramural sports activities,” according to the Bursar’s Office website. The recreation fee was $15 in fall 2014 and $15 in spring 2015.
Special Institutional – This is a University System of Georgia-wide general-purpose fee implemented by the Board of Regents. “The University of Georgia has dedicated funds we receive from this fee to maintain excellence of our instruction standards and to enhance the academic experience of our students." The special institutional fee was $450 in fall 2014 and $450 in spring 2015.
Student-Center Facilities – This fee is designated to cover “basic user fees and financial obligations” of the Ramsey Student Center and financial obligations from the Tate Center expansion, according to the Bursar’s Office Website. The facilities fee was $80 in fall 2014 and $80 in spring 2015.
Technology – The technology fee goes towards funding new computer labs, replacing computers in existing labs, classroom upgrades, technology-based course development and special technology services for students, among other things, according to the Bursar’s Office website. The technology fee was $114 in fall 2014 and $114 in spring 2015.
Transportation – The transportation fee “supports the Campus Transit System and entitles students to ride Athens Transit System buses at no charge,” according to the Bursar’s Office website. The transportation fee was $116 in fall 2014 and $116 in spring 2015.