First: plan a student schedule on PASS; second: register; last: pay tuition before the deadline to avoid being dropped from classes.
Hidden within the bulk of tuition paid each quarter is a $750 student fee charge. Student fees total approximately 42 percent of the tuition students who are enrolled in six or more units pay per quarter.
In recent years, students have seen an increase in student fees (in 2006 student fees totaled $610 per quarter). Larry Kelley, the vice president for administration and finance, said this is due in large part to students having to make up for the deficit in state-provided funding.
“Just over 20 years ago, the state provided 90 percent of revenue received per student,” Kelley said. “The state provides less than half now. It’s been a trend over time of shifting (the cost of higher education) from the state to the students.”
Although it is difficult for Kelley to predict what future student fees will be, he said the value of the fees are meant to uphold the Cal Poly education experience and make up for what the state can’t fund.
This is true with cases such as the campus academic fee of $337.52, the health services fee of $90.66, instructional fees of $90.28 and various other fees which account for $5.84. However, the bulk of the fees come from the $133.13 University Union (UU) fee and the $92.57 associated student fee.
Programs such as Poly Escapes, Concerts in the Plaza, the Craft Center, ASI Children’s Programs and activities at the Recreation Center are funded by student fees. However, an average of 3,000 students per day use the Recreation Center, and approximately 45 student-families utilize the children’s programs.
Even if a student does not use the programs or facilities, every student is required to pay the fees.
Once students pay, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) and its budget committees make a forecasted budget report. The report is based on an estimated student enrollment number and is called a budget worksheet.
On the 2010-2011 ASI budget worksheet, it was predicted students would bring in approximately $17,330 per quarter. This money was then allocated to both the UU and ASI budgets.
Any funding left over from a given budget period goes into a reserve fund. Legally, this money can only be used on programs or facilities it was initially put toward.
ASI executive business director Dwayne Brummett said the budget’s purpose is to ensure student fees are used in the most effective way to benefit students.
“Students have people looking out for them,” he said. “They have the (ASI) Board of Directors; 25 elected members that know about everything we are doing and vote to approve our budgets. And, there are budget committees that look at the budgets to understand what they are going to be paying for, what services and making sure that we’re following all the mandates that have been set down by students over time.”
Not all students agree with this, however.
Graduate student Lindsay Warzecka said she saw the previous UU Plaza, its demolition, the construction process and the unveiling of the new UU Plaza.
She said it was a large, concrete structure then, but now it is a slightly rearranged, larger concrete structure.
“We put a lot of money into rebuilding it, and when it reopened, it looks almost exactly the same,” Warzecka said. “It is still big concrete structures that everyone just walks through.”
Although the UU Plaza construction was approved by students through a referendum process in 2005 — a process during which students vote in favor of or against a proposed project that will be funded by student fees — students such as Warzecka don’t think projects such as the UU Plaza are necessary.
Contrary to what some students might think, Brummett said the ASI budget is student-driven. But at the same time, it is designed to be somewhat dollar-driven, like any normal business, to “operate in the most efficient way (possible),” he said.
Lorin Torbitt, chair of the UU Advisory Board (UUAB), also said the budget spending is geared toward students. She said she has never seen a business aspect take precedence over the students’ needs.
She said the professionals hired to analyze the spending are proof of this. These individuals verify the money brought in through student fees in accordance with state laws, and thus protect student assets, she said.
For example, when there is a budget surplus from the UU fees, the money goes into an aforementioned reserve fund which can only be used toward the UU. Specifically, UUAB’s goal is to use it toward facility upkeep because the facilities were a student investment, so the money is for maintaining the investment.
“It’s good to have the goal of being able to spend the fees that have been collected within the same year so the students see what the money is going toward,” Torbitt said. “You see a lot of the reserves going to the improvements of the facilities.”
Despite this, students are still concerned with how the 42 percent of tuition that makes up student fees are being used.
In a survey done by Kostas McDade, chair of the ASI Advocacy, Outreach and Accountability Ad Hoc Committee, and Katie Morrow and Aaron Borgeson, ASI Executive Cabinet secretaries of legislative affairs, in the UU Plaza April 7, 84 percent of students were concerned that budget cuts would affect the Learn By Doing philosophy.
ASI president Sarah Storelli said students shouldn’t worry because the fees ultimately go toward improving their college experiences.
“Student fees just allow for students to have more opportunity to have the ultimate college experience through everything we provide,” Storelli said. “Since we have so many students on campus, and we aren’t as much a commuter school as other campuses, it’s important that we do offer services and different programs for students to keep them engaged here at Cal Poly to help them flourish to be a better student and person.”