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Fees are on the rise at Southeast
Course fees and high-cost program fees have been generating extra revenue at Southeast for the last two Fiscal Years. What are these fees, and what do the fees go toward?
Course fees are applied to cover the costs of individual courses that have extra costs than that of a normal class. For example the equipment and supplies in a biology lab or mass media class. These fees go directly to the budgets of individual departments to cover the extra costs of those classes.
The high-cost program fees get a little more complex. High-cost programs are defined by Southeast’s Vice President for Finance and Administration Kathy Mangels as “a program in which the three-year average direct cost-per-student credit hour is greater than the current tuition rate.”
In simple terms, Southeast examines its programs every three years. If the three-year average cost per credit hour of putting a student through a program at Southeast is higher than what the student is paying, it is classified as a high-cost program. The next cycle of evaluations will be in FY22.
Southeast generated a revenue of $276,000 from increases to program and web-course fees in Fiscal Year 2019, as well as a revenue of $153,000 from high-cost program fees. Despite not having any new high-cost programs in FY20, Southeast generated even more from high-cost programs, bumping the amount generated to $564,650. Each high-cost program saw at least a $5 per credit hour bump, with some seeing as much as a $20 increase per credit hour. Southeast also generated an additional $268,620 from web-course fees and administrative fees in FY20.
The high-cost program fees do not go to the departments themselves, but instead go into the general university fund because, according to Mangels, “the expenses that typically make it higher costs are funded by the university general pot.”
While funds generated from high-cost program fees are not directly added to a department’s budget, Mangels said students in those programs still see the benefit of the fees. For example, Mangels said in many of these programs, the faculty who will be hired require a higher salary to be brought to the university. A higher salary, in theory, equates to a better and more experienced instructor, which in turn gives the student better instruction and more opportunities.
Programs do not necessarily remain classified as high-cost programs. While programs are evaluated every three years to see if they qualify as a high-cost program, the programs that are already high-cost programs are evaluated to see if they still meet the high-cost program criteria. Athletic Training was one such program that was a high-cost program but had the fees removed in FY19 when it no longer met the criteria.
Many of the fees being added fall right in line with the decrease in enrollment for Southeast, which has seen a five-year decline. Southeast’s Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success does not see the trend reserving next year as an enrollment decline is expected again.
The students at Southeast will continue to see these fees until enrollment increases or the State of Missouri appropriates more money to Southeast. As history shows and future trends seem to indicate, there doesn’t seem to be a change on the horizon, so Southeast students will have to foot the bill.