On first glance, charging college students additional fees never looks good.
It looks like greed on behalf of a university trying to squeeze every last penny from its already-strapped students, and questions about whether the new, additional fees are needed always crop up from simple historical fact: if the University got along without the fee in the past, why implement it now?
Luckily for USF students, it doesn’t look like a new fee considered by the Board of Trustees on Thursday meets either criterion.
As detailed in Friday’s Oracle, the BOT is considering charging students a $10 convenience fee each time students pay for tuition or fees with a credit or debit card on OASIS. Students can avoid the new fee by paying with electronic checks.
Monies generated would total about $1 million a year, and would be used to cover the fees credit card companies charge the University.
In other words, the new fee would simply pay a tab – credit card companies’ fees – that the University previously footed for students.
In a climate of University-wide budget cuts, such a policy shift – which would be approved at the BOT’s December meeting – is both practical and correct.
The University is in no position to throw around money and should not pay for expenses that do not contribute to academics or student-support services.
In this case, it is hard to see why USF is obligated to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to subsidize students’ convenience.
This is especially true considering that other modes of payment like electronic checks exist, - modes for which the University isn’t required to pay.
Why the contrary – that the University should pay these fees without passing them on to students and take on a loss – would be good for USF or for students is unclear. Thus, the case for the fee remains strong.
University Controller Nick Trivunovich accurately summed up this financial position.
“We’re not trying to make money off of this,” he said. “We’re just trying to break even.”
Another proposed fee-increase – raising the cost of replacement student ID cards from $10 to $15 – should also be approved by the BOT.
Again, such an increase would raise revenue in light of revenue shortfalls. It would predominately ‘hurt’ students who treated their IDs irresponsibly – by losing or damaging them – and hence would be fair as it does not burden new students and those who care for their IDs.
The BOT should vote to increase fees to cover the hidden costs of student services, as such a move will raise revenue where it’s most needed.