Friday, March 27, 2009

Amount of student fees unknown to students

OU student Cole Ford browses the political journals in OU's Bizzell Library. Ford said he uses the journals that are supported by students fees all the time to write essays for classes.

While students pay a long list of fees every semester, some students admit they do not know what these fees support.

According to OU's Tuition Estimator located on both the OU and Office of the Bursar's official website, the average undergraduate student pays $121.10 in fees per credit hour for lower division classes. In addition, each college has a specific technology fee and the university requires all students to pay a list of five fees for every semester.

"I'll have to admit that I really am unaware to all the fees I'm paying and where they go," said Cole Ford, political science and English sophomore.

And while David Boren said tuition will not be increasing next semester, representatives and public relations officers from the Office of the Bursar, OU Libraries and OU Health Services said they were not sure if fees would be increasing next semester.

The technology fees are based per college and range anywhere from $5.00 in the College of Arts and Sciences to $30.00 in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Earth and Energy, according to the Office of the Bursar's fee statement on their website.

On top of credit hour and technology fees, the list of mandatory fees for both the fall and spring semester adds up to $176.50 for each semester. After these fees, there are also certain fees administered by each separate college per credit hour or per course a student takes from that college.

Some students say they are aware of fees, but not the full extent of fees and how many different fees they are paying.

“I knew I was paying fees, but I didn’t know there were so many different ones,” said Jainelle Daniels, University College freshman. “I’ll admit it is probably because my parents handle it all, but I really had no idea, and I think that is wrong.”

In the list of mandatory fees, the “Library Excellence fee” is $11.00 per credit hour. This fee supports library staffing, acquisitions of books and documents, and subscriptions to scholarly journals, both online and physical copies, according to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the Bursar's website.

“We have access to more than 250 databases, and these provide access to a wealth of information students may not be aware are available,” said Sarah Robins, officer of public relations for OU Libraries. “We [also] have databases that provide full-text journal and newspaper articles, scores for classical music, and primary sources from the 18th and 19th century as well as streaming theater and dance productions.”

While some students are unaware of these benefits, Ford said he makes use of the journals frequently for political science essays and other homework assignments.

“I probably go to the library on an average of four times per week,” Ford said. “I make use of the library fee. It seems like a bargain to me.”

OU Health Services charges a mandatory fee of $74.00 for both the fall and spring semesters, as well as $37.00 for the summer.

OUHS offers a variety of services to help meet the health care needs of the college-aged student,” said Maggie Pool, OU Health Services promotion coordinator. “The medical clinic staff consists of board-certified, licensed physicians, physician assistants and medical assistants offering a full spectrum of care in family medicine, sports medicine, and disease prevention and treatment.”

Pool also said physicians and registered nurses issue test results, refill prescriptions, give free flu shots and offer a lot of advice on medical questions and there are also registered dietitians who are available by appointment for students. The health fee provides all of this at a cheaper price then around the community.

“I didn’t know about it, but I used Goddard all the time last semester when I got really sick,” Daniels said. “They gave me prescriptions and they did a great job and saved me from having to go to the 24-hour clinic which takes forever.”

Ford said he never has been to Goddard, but is glad that the services exist.

“I really haven’t had anything more than a cold while I’m here and they really can’t help me with that,” said Ford. “But I am glad that I know it is there when I do need it.”

All of these services and many more are available to all students. Both Pool and Robbins said the fees their branch charges provides services for students and do not support renovations to OU’s campus.

“Some of the fees seem alright, but I really wish OU would do a better job of letting us know what we are paying,” said Daniels. “Some of the fee titles sound very vague to me. I wish they would reevaluate all the fees to see if all of them are necessary and make the Bursar website less confusing.”

Ford said he was also unaware of the plethora of fees and does not know if he uses every single one.

“Some of them sound alright,” said Ford. “I have never had them explained to me before though. I honestly don’t really know if they are all reasonable or not.”

Below are some of Ford and Daniels' comments on student fees.

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