By Cassie Gerhardstein
Senior Features Writer
While course fees, which are additional costs for certain classes, are used as a way to meet the needs of specific courses without raising the cost of tuition for the entire student body, students wonder how the fees are determined and what exactly their money is going towards.
This year, the sum of all course fees listed in the academic bulletin totals just over $9,700. This does not include all art classes, which have a $22 fee per credit hour, or any type of music lessons, which add an additional $331 fee.
The professor teaching the class determines each course fee separately, then sends his or her request to the department chair. From there the proposal is sent to the business office and the president’s cabinet for final approval. The fees range from $3 all the way up to $801, and depending on the class, can be used for anything from a flash drive to a musical accompanist.
Although the costs may be necessary, senior education major Ryan Grant says the extra money can make it hard for students to know how much to budget each semester. “In education, we have a $20 course fee for almost every class, yet we have never been told or shown what the fees are used for,” Grant said.
Asbury Provost Dr. Jon Kulaga said that the university hopes to give students enough time to plan ahead by publishing each course fee in the bulletin, which is printed every summer for the upcoming year. Hard copies of the bulletin are available in the registrar’s office as well as electronic copies online.
Vice President of Business Affairs Charlie Fiskeaux said that he works very hard with the registrar’s office to insist that course fees be identified during online preregistration. “I don’t ever let somebody come along and add a course fee after students have registered,“ Fiskeaux said.
However, while class descriptions online do identify a course fee, it merely states that there is a fee, not the actual amount.
”I kind of consider it the student’s responsibility to look it up because it is disclosed in the bulletin on the website. If you want to know what it is then you can explore that,” Fiskeaux said.
Specific fees are listed on page 211 of the 2013-2014 academic bulleting, which is available as a PDF download on Asbury’s website.
The reason the exact fees are not listed on the couurse reigstration site is due to the ease of editing. It’s easier to have all of the fees listed in one place as opposed to distributing them throughout the online catalogue.
“Yes, it would be easier from the students’ point of view, but it would be a headache to maintain,” Fiskeaux said.
As far as what the funds are used for, requests submitted by professors for course fees are general overviews and not detailed lists. Fee proposals state the nature of what’s needed — such as technology, equipment or art supplies — not specific materials.
So while it would be possible to add a general paragraph in the bulletin about where the money goes, the only way to know exactly is to request the information from professors.
One benefit of the fees being added directly onto students’ accounts is that they have the ability to use their financial aid to cover the cost as opposed to paying out of pocket. For example, if a student has more financial aid or available scholarship money than the balance on their account, the additional funds can be used to cover his or her course fees. This is especially helpful when it comes to larger fees such as those used for traveling and music lessons.
Kulaga does recognize that “more and more courses are looking into course fees as a way of supplementing some of the needs of the class.”
While some students might suggest that it is more fair to have all fees included in the cost of tuition, other students believe it is not right to make everyone pay the fee for a class they may never take. In addition, it is challenging to ensure that each course gets the exact amount of money it needs when the funds are in one giant pot.
“Course fees are a simpler way of meeting the needs of specific courses,” Kulaga said.