What Are We Paying For?

Student piggy banks are often empty

I am sure most universities and colleges place fees on their students for the various services provided.  But how often do we students pay attention to our school fees?  Have you ever checked your term summary statement to see what you are paying for along with your class tuition?

I was recently telling the story of how I discovered that every student at PSU pays for thePSU Rec Center, whether they use it or not (a decision made via student votes, by the way).  This conversation brought me to wonder what other unknown expenses I pay for through my tuition. 

            I began to investigate the summary statements for the past year, and although I was surprised to see an unwarranted library fine from the winter term, there was little information on tuition expenses beyond the lump sum.  So instead I searched for general tuition costs on the PSU website, and I found that for an undergraduate attending full-time, the estimated cost is $2000 per term.  This estimate includes tuition costs of $1506, incidental costs of $218, a building fee of $45, health services for $190, and the campus Rec fund for $41.  I have no idea what the incidental cost is for, and the building fund, what is that?  Student health services is a wonderful idea, but if I am paying $190 per term for health services then why does it still cost so much to see a doctor on campus?    

            These costs really surprised me, and I can’t help but wonder what other unknown expenses I have paid for over the past 4 years.  After watching Kenny’s video blog this week, I see that we students do have a voice in the matter.  With the exception of tuition, our fees are controlled by student government, which is why it is so important for students to participate in the ASPSU process. 

When it comes to the costs of our education, ignorance is not necessarily bliss!

5 thoughts on “What Are We Paying For?

  1. Dustin Robinson says:

    Good article. It raises an important issue.

    Just like being forced by the IRS to pay for government programs that I don’t support, PSU forces its me to pay for programs that I don’t use or support. I pay for my own health care and now I have to pay for student health services? I will never use them. I have to pay for the rec center? I will never go there.

    American culture has strayed away from the ideals that people should get what they deserve and pay for. We need to get back to individual freedom.

    I understand that if I don’t agree with these fees then I can go to a different college and pay tuition somewhere else. That is the great thing about capitalism. But it is still important to voice my opinion on mediums such as this blog.

    • Richelle Beck says:

      Excellent point about the taxes Dustin. I guess it is just the way things are. We as a nation don’t necessarily vote on whether we support Planned Parenthood or wars overseas, which is why it is so important to vote for our Congressional leaders. The same goes for PSU. We may not have much control over what we pay for in our tuition costs, but we do have control over who we vote in for student government. The majority of the students at PSU do not participate in that process. Our biggest mistake!

      • W. Leaf Zuk says:

        I was concerned about how our student fees are spent and how the whole distribution process works so I decided to run for the Student Senate (and thank you to those who voted for me). I hope to get other students more engaged and that students will contact Senators and tell us your concerns.
        The Student Fee is controlled by students…speak up.
        And feel free to come by Smith 117…leave me a message and I’ll do my best to get you answers.

  2. Jess Millar says:

    You can get a general idea of where the building fees go by reading the SBF Funding Request Form:
    http://www.fap.pdx.edu/SBF%20Funding%20Request%20Format.pdf

    Incidental fees can mean any number of things depending on the school. PSU uses it as a misc. section, including some building projects as mentiond in the form above.
    http://www.pdx.edu/faqs/what-is-the-student-incidental-fee

    If you want a more detailed look you should read PSU’s financial summary:
    http://www.pdx.edu/sites/www.pdx.edu.budget/files/media_assets/unrestrictedMar11%20WEB_update.pdf

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