Removing the mystery of mandatory fees

Category:  News
Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 at 6:00 PM
Removing the mystery of mandatory fees by Nathan Hirth
Graphic: Amanda Anstett

One of the largest and most obvious challenges college students face is the cost of higher education; and while the start of a new semester brings many new opportunities, it also brings another bill. 

Many Edinboro students look over their billing statements and come to the same conclusion: What does half of this mean?

First, up-to-date billing statements are found by going to the MyEdinboro homepage and clicking the E-Bill payment button. From there, one can view the statements for each semester, which is a list of every cost charged to student accounts, such as tuition, fees, housing and bookstore charges. Also listed are financial aid and payments credited to your account. And while billing statements do list the charges, they don’t give any actual description of what each fee or tuition is paying for. 

So, what are these fees for? A lot. 

Tuition is one of the largest charges for students and while it can become complex, the main idea is simple. The price of it essentially comes down to three variables: how many credits the student is taking, whether the student is from out-of-state or not and whether the student is an undergraduate. 

“In general, tuition for the average student, 12 to 18 credits, is one price,” Shari Gould, Edinboro Bursar, explained. “So, if you’re really a price conscious shopper, you’re going to try taking 15, or 16, or 17 or 18 (credits).” 

Meanwhile, part-time and graduate students pay on a per-credit basis. Out-of-state students, because of recent policy changes from the state level, now pay 150 percent tuition, unless they started attending Edinboro before the policy change took place, about a year ago. 

One of the simplest fees to explain is the Student Success Fee, a flat $70 per student for a semester. This money is used to cover part of the cost of the Academic Success Center, which provides many services to students, such as helping develop study or test taking skills. 

Showing up on billing statements as either Art, Music, or STEM Fees, program specific instructional fees are charged to help cover additional expenses that are associated with those programs. But, they’re only charged to the students who take the courses that have the higher costs for the university. These increased costs can originate from the more individual instruction faculty must provide or from the cost of materials. 

Some of those materials used to have to be purchased directly by students, but now the school uses the funds to purchase them for the students. “The students were going to be paying some of these prices anyway,” Gould clarified. “But now we’ve standardized it.”

The Instructional Service Fee, contrary to how it sounds, isn’t for paying professors’ salaries. The funds from this fee are used to help pay for a wide variety academic expenses including things like lab supplies and even diplomas. It is essentially a general form of the program specific instructional fees that are associated with specific courses.

The Student Activity Fee, listed on billing statements as “Fee-Activity,” is one that is determined by the Student Government Association and in turn, is used to fund them. Collected by the university, then, given to the SGA, the money from this fee helps fund the events organized for students in addition to the funds they give to various student clubs. One recognizable example of these funds in action is the SGA Game Room in the Pogue Student Center.

For students who enjoy using the Fitness Center in Pogue, they have the University Center Fee to thank because they wouldn’t be able to use it without paying for it. Paying this fee is what helps to finance the Fitness Center along with the rest of Pogue. All students who pay it are given access to all activities held inside of the building in addition to being able to get their cardio in on a treadmill.

The Health and Wellness Fee is what helps fund the Ghering Health and Wellness Center and the services that it provides to students. This allows students to have easy access to several health-related services, either for free or a reduced cost regardless of any health insurance they may or may not have. Many of their services are listed on the university’s website, but one example of what they provide are the free counseling sessions available to all students who have paid the Health and Wellness Fee. 

The Activity, Instructional Service, Health and Wellness, and University Center Fees are all known as mandatory fees. Unlike tuition or course specific instructional fees, which must be paid by every student, these mandatory fees have exceptions such as students who are never actually on campus due to scenarios such as all their classes being online or at the Porreco campus. 

As Gould explains, “There are always exceptions to that rule…so, it gets complicated. But, if they’re taking an on-campus course, they pay all the fees.”

Nathan Hirth can be reached at


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