Mandatory fees to rise

Tech students could be paying an additional 3.7 percent in mandatory student fees starting next year, nearing the total to almost $600.

Last week Institute President Wayne Clough sent a letter with recommendations for the increases to Chancellor Erroll Davis. The Board of Regents will make a final decision in April.

“One of the things the [Mandatory Student Fee Advisory] Committee looks at every year is how that fee has changed from year to year. We try to take into consideration inflation…but sometimes there are new programs that need to be implemented,“ said Brock Wester, graduate student body president.

“[The fee increases] haven’t outpaced inflation,“ said Anu Parvatiyar, undergraduate student body president. According to Parvatiyar, the state of Georgia ranks seventh nationwide in lowest university cost of attendance.

Wester and Parvatiyar were among eight student members of the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee, which submitted its recommendations to President Clough last month.

Students pay five mandatory fees that help cover the costs of transportation, technology, health services, athletics and student activities. A large portion of the increases requested is attributed to inflationary operating expenses, including wage and benefit increases for employees.

The transportation fee’s proposed $4 increase will also help pay for the increasing cost of fuel, vehicle replacement and the extension of late night Stingerette service from 2:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. The fee is expected to rise to $64, a 6.7 percent increase from this year. Health Services will use its proposed $4 increase primarily to offset rising costs due to inflation. Students currently pay $131 for the health fee, the highest among the five.

The Athletic Association requested the highest increase, raising the fee from $112 to $118. In addition to offsetting rising costs due to inflation, much of the new revenue would be used to award scholarships to student athletes and pay for the debt service of the new football stadium constructed in 2004.

“The athletic fee is a hard sell to the students sometimes, but…even if you don’t necessarily go to each game, the athletics program here at Tech does have a very beneficial impact on the Institute. Alumni love to hear about Georgia Tech’s success in athletics and we receive a substantial amount of donations. It is also a recruiting tool for new students,“ Wester said.

The student activity fee, proposed by the Student Government Association, is expected to rise by $5 to $118. Additional funds will help pay for wage increases for Campus Recreation Center and Student Center staff, as well as maintenance of the bowling lanes in Tech Rec and the creation of a new full-time Student Involvement Coordinator position.

“The number of student organizations here at Tech is substantial; it’s almost 400 that are chartered. The management of all those services has necessitated a new position to handle that…We want to look at where our money is going and we want to better serve the students,“ Wester said.

A technology fee subcommittee received proposals from academic departments and offices on campus and submitted its recommendations to the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee. This year no increases were requested, leaving the technology fee at $103.

Brock explained that by introducing smaller year to year increases, the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee hopes to avoid large increases, such as those made last year which increased student fees by over 12 percent.

“The process began with a bunch of advisory groups recommending each of the fees. They would recommend the fee first and then it would come to us,“ said Jim Kirk, director of Budget Planning and Administration and co-chair of the Mandatory Student Fee Advisory Committee.

The Committee began meeting in November and met two more times before voting on Jan. 18 for the recommendations that were submitted to President Clough.

“Just about every year, [President Clough] goes along with the committee’s recommendations. I can only remember one time when he didn’t,“ Kirk said.

The letter that President Clough sent to Chancellor Davis last week contained no changes.

A final decision will be made when the Board of Regents meets on Feb. 12 and 13. The Board of Regents will also set tuition rates for the next academic year at this time.

“There’s concern among different students that they are not fully taking advantage of each of the fees, and while this is a subsidization practice that exists for everyone in society, it’s my feeling that most students do benefit from at least most of the fees in some way,“ Wester said.

Beginning next year, the total students pay in mandatory fees could rise from $573 to $592. Other non-mandatory student fees, including housing, parking and meal plan prices, are not approved by the Board of Regents. Each corresponding department has the authority to set those fees.

Athletic Fee:Revenue collected from the Athletic Fee comprises about 7.6% of the Athletic Association’s total athletic operating budget.

Health Fee:The fee funds Health Services, which provides medical, health education, dental, and specialty services to eligible students and spouses.

Student Activity Fee: Administered by the SGA, it funds organizations benefiting students such as the CRC, Student Center, Student Publications, Intramurals and other student organizations.

Student Recreation Facility Fee: The fee covers debt service payments on the CRC renovations (whereas the Student Activity Fee funds the CRC’s day-to-day operating expenses).

Technology Fee:The fee is used to purchase new technology-based equipment and refurbish existing equipment. Funds are allocated by the provost under recommendation from the Advisory Technology Fee Committee.

Transportation Fee:The fee covers the operating expenses for Tech Trolley, Stinger and Stingerette service.