WKU conducting a comprehensive review of student fees to ensure it is being a ‘good steward’ of money

Jack Dobbs

In February 2018, WKU’s student dining fee went up to $350 a semester per the university’s contract with Aramark. Three months later, the WKU Board of Regents approved both a 4% tuition hike and an increase in the fee for online courses from $100 to $150 per credit hour.

Because of the number of fees that students pay, a comprehensive study of fees has been launched. The study was announced by Acting Provost Cheryl Stevens at the Directors, Department Heads and Deans meeting on Aug. 6.

“I want to be sure that we are being good stewards of the money,” Stevens said in an email. “Over the past 20 years, new student fees have been added for a variety of uses. I just thought it was time to review the fees related to courses and programs.”

Stevens said a committee has been created to conduct the study. The committee is being co-chaired by Stephanie Hammons, an office coordinator in the WKU Mahurin Honors College.

“We have been tasked at this point with reviewing all fees within academic affairs,” Hammons said. “Right now we’re looking at course fees, [then] we’ll move on to program fees.”

Hammons also said that the committee will examine whether specific course fees could be repurposed into program fees. If they become program fees, they will only be paid one time at the beginning of each semester, she said.

One focus of the study, Hammons said, is identifying fees for “consumables” in different programs. Hammons said consumables are items that are used once and disposed of.

“You have to look at equipment that the students are directly using,” Ham- mons said. “That’s the kind of stuff we’re looking at. How does it directly benefit the student in that course at that time?”

Though the study has just begun, Hammons said that no discrepancies have been found so far in the usages of fees.

“The main thing is that some of the guidelines have changed as far as we’re concerned,” Hammons said, “And if we are OK’d by the provost and the president, there may be a few fees that now need to resubmit what they’re using [them] for.”

Hammons said that the study was scheduled to complete this fall, but
it is now expected to take a longer
time to finish. Hammons said this is because the committee wants to make sure that the fee guidelines are adequately serving students.

“We are at the end of reviewing course fees,” Hammons said. “Program [fees] we will be starting in a few weeks.”

In addition to the course fees, students are also charged a $218 athletic fee, a $62 student centers fee, a $70 Downing Student Union renovation fee, and a Creason Parking Structure fee of $30, according to the Billings and Receivables website.

Belinda Higginbotham, WKU Bursar, said that these fees are incorporated into the $5,401 tuition cost for students. Higginbotham also said that many classes at WKU charge a flat rate with their fees.

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and jack.dobbs469@ topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @jackrdobbs.