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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASUA pushes for fee transparency

ASUA is currently working to make the student fee process more transparent and student-engaged at the UA.

Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Issac Ortega said he wants to open up the conversation about student fees to the UA campus and let students know that they are working to enhance fee transparency.

The reform would come in three phases, Ortega said. The first would examine the best practices for fee transparency, including what students want to see on UAccess to explain the fees they are paying for.

Secondly, there would be a way for students to get involved in how the fees they pay are being put to use on campus.

“We want to create a way for students to get deeply involved with how fees are spent on our campus, and more student involvement and engagement when it comes to reviewing fees,” Ortega said. “Right now, our processes are all over the place, and student involvement is not where it can be.”

According to the UA Academic Affairs website, the current University Fees Committee is able to review requests for special class fees, deposits and academically related non-course fees and provides a recommendation for appropriate action.

According to the Bursar’s Office website, mandatory fees include the Arizona Financial Aid Trust Fee, Health and Recreation fee, Information Technology and Library fee, Student Media fee, Recreation Center Bond Retirement fee and Program fee, Student Services fee and Wildcat Events Board fee.

Undergraduate students who are taking seven units or more pay about $512 in mandatory fees each semester, while graduate students pay about $510. However, students are faced with a variety of other fees, including the most recent $50 iCourse fee, which is an added fee to all online courses and will be implemented in spring 2015.

“We want to make our mandatory fees as predictable as our tuition, [and] guaranteed tuition was a huge win for students,” Ortega said, discussing the last phase. “We all know if you start the university on day one, you pay that tuition until you graduate. I want to make sure that fees are the same thing.”

Arizona Board of Regents President Eileen Klein also discussed ways to make the fee-setting process more transparent at the regents meeting at Arizona State University on Nov. 20.

“I want to be sure that there is true oversight and accountability in the fee-making process,” Klein said. “There is room for improvement in how all fees are created and noticed. The whole fee process at the university itself needs some refinement.”

Klein said that out of the board of regents’ $4.5 billion budget, $3 billion is the true operating budget for the three in-state public universities. Student fees represent 8 percent of the $3 billion. The state of Arizona provides 25.5 percent of board’s budget, and the rest of that budget is funded by student tuition.

Klein said that involving students in the fee-setting process is important, because students are responsible for funding more university operations today than they have ever been.

“It’s not as clear today as it could or should be, [and] it’s extremely important that students understand how their funds are being used,” Klein said. “Students are, today, bigger shareholders in the university system than they’ve ever been before.”

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Follow Adriana Espinosa on Twitter.

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