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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: The fees are too damn high

When three random students were asked what the UA student fees were, their responses were either they didn’t know or that they were just more charges. These fees are included in our tuition and charged to our bursar’s accounts. The Bursar’s Office website gives a very brief and unclear description of each fee listed.

Every student is charged for an Arizona Financial Aid Trust Fee, Health Fee, Information Technology/ Library Fee, Media Fee, Recreation Center Bond Fee, Recreation Center Program Fee, Student Services Fee and Wildcat Events Board Fee. Freshmen are charged for a “Freshman Fee.”

Students are charged every semester without being informed of what fees mean or include.

When pre-architecture freshman Tiana Hernandez was asked to describe the contents of these fees, she responded, “Isn’t that just another thing the school charges us?”

Science education freshman Mckenzie Seeley stated she perceives they’re required but doesn’t “know what they’re used for.”

The Information Technology/Library Fee charges students taking seven or more units $240 a semester to “upgrade and expand the University’s capacity to provide this essential operating environment.” When Hernandez was shown this description of the fee, she said she still wasn’t sure what her money was being used for.

How can the university expect students to pay mandatory fees when they have no clear understanding of what they’re paying for?

“I think that if the fees had a better description on UAccess, then students would be more understanding of the fees,” pre-physiology freshman Katie Christopher said.

For other fees, though, a deeper understanding can lead students to be less understanding. Consider the Health and Recreation Fee that charges students taking seven or more units $150 a semester. The fee is intended to “provide funding to sustain student health services … as well as support operational, maintenance and service costs for the Campus Recreation Centers.” The Recreation Center Bond and Recreation Program fees charge students for the funding of the recreation center.

Firstly, why do students taking more than seven units get charged more? What does a student taking more units have to do with how much they use the facilities?

Why should students who don’t visit Campus Health Service and don’t use the Student Recreation Center have to pay for these facilities’ funding?

It makes sense to assume students will use these services and to charge them accordingly, but can’t students who address their needs elsewhere opt out?

“I know a lot of people who work out at other gyms,” Christopher said, “so why should they have to pay?”

Access to a gym and a pharmacy aren’t integral to the university experience; students should be able to purchase an education without being strong-armed into buying additional services. However, it is possible to opt out of certain fees.

“Some of the opt-out fees include the Recreation Center Fees and the Wildcat Events Board Fee,” said ASUA Sen. Elena Gold, a member of the Student Services Fee Board, “but others, such as the Student Services Fee, are mandatory. … These fees are essential to provide services that the student body needs.”

If the services provided by these mandatory fees are so important for funding the university’s expenses and scholarships, they should be absorbed into tuition. The arbitrary distinctions feel dishonest. An additional “fee” should denote an additional service, and additional services should be optional.

But the opt-out system Gold describes is useless. If a student wishes to opt out of a non-mandatory fee, they can write a letter to the organization behind that fee and ask for a refund, and the organization will determine if it is justifiable. That’s a lot of time, effort and waiting.

After hearing a breakdown of the fees, Hernandez, Seeley and Christopher were still confused about what they were paying for and why they were paying for services they’ve never used.

The fee descriptions on the Bursar’s website are unclear. Perhaps if they gave a line-by-line breakdown of each fee’s implementation, the university could avoid fights with students about mandatory fees. But even then, an opt-out possibility for non-academic fees needs to be more approachable.

School isn’t cheap. Asking students to pay blindly for things they don’t understand or to finance others’ services is unreasonable. Students should be able to explain their student fees when asked about them. Instead, they only seem confused and overburdened.

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Jessica Terrones is a journalism freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

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