Think Tuition is All You Pay? Think Again . . .

Barry Lenson

Think Tuition is All You Pay? Think Again . . An article in UCLA’s Daily Bruin reports that UCLA just made a big mistake.  The administration took $23 million in fees that students had contributed to renovate two buildings and spent that money instead to renovate two different ones.

Actually the story is a little more complicated than that – we’re simplifying it here to make the point that student fees really do add up. When one university – and a public one at that – has $23 million lying around to plunk with, that’s a pretty good indication that all those fees that students are paying every year are not chump change. They really add up.

At Ohio State University, for example, students pay a $25 student activity fee. Sounds like a paltry sum, right? Well maybe, but a look at the university’s website shows that all those $25 contributions add up to $4 million a year.  Where does the university spend that money? Here’s a breakdown:

  • 52.75% campus-wide programming administered by Ohio Union Activities Board (OUAB)
  • 15% Discount Ticket Program (formerly known as Explore Columbus)
  • 12.75% student organization funding
  • 8.5% student government funding
  • 7% Signature Events funding
  • 4% Buck-i-Serv (Alternative Breaks Program)

We’re not sure what Buck-i-Serve is. Sounds like it might have something to do with beavers?

But no mistake about it – if your tuition bill is about $26,000 to attend a state college or $48,000 to attend a private one, that’s only the start of what you are expected to pay.  For example . . .

Tuition and Fees at a Small Eastern Liberal Arts College

  • Tuition: $40,350
  • Matriculation Fee:  $700 (for first-year students only)
  • Student Activity Fee:  $325
  • Room Fee: $7,580
  • Meal Plan: depends on plan selected

And here are some estimated expenses that are not included in that summary . . .

  • Clothing and linens: $1,200
  • Computer and peripherals: c. $1,200
  • Daily coffee: $1,000
  • Dorm fridge and furnishings: $250
  • Textbooks: $500
  • Transportation in and around campus: $500
  • Transportation between home and school: depends

And let’s not forget what you have to pay just to apply to college. Here are some estimates  . . .

  • Standardized test fees: $300
  • Tutoring to take standardized tests: $1,500
  • Application fees to 10 colleges:  $1,000
  • Travel to visit 10 colleges: $6,000

It all makes the idea of going to college online pretty attractive, right? For example here at StraighterLine there are no tuition fees, no dorms or meal plans, no standardized tests, no campus visits, no student activity fee, and certainly no Buck-i-Serv. Granted, you still need a computer, clothes a place to live, and coffee. But chances are you have those things already. Why should you pay some college for them?

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