Many incoming college freshmen may be surprised to see additional costs on their tuition bill, such as a technology fee.
As the fall semester kicks off, incoming freshmen may be surprised by some of the items included in their tuition bill. Tuition costs are pricey enough but are expected. Many students find financial aid award letters to be confusing, and it doesn’t help that most colleges add a number of fees onto the final bill. These unplanned expenses can quickly add up to thousands of dollars, according to the Boston Globe.
There is some merit to these additional charges. For instance, a gym fee and a technology fee can allow colleges to provide state-of-the-art equipment that students are able to access. But the unintended consequence is that many families are unable to adequately prepare for the full cost of college.
Although it’s possible to get some of these fees waived, many are mandatory.
Boston University automatically charges all students $130 for a Sports Pass so they can cheer on their home team, according to the Boston Globe. However, students can opt out of this fee once they receive their final tuition bill.
However, incoming freshman at a college might be required to participate in a mandatory orientation that costs up to $500. And the fees don’t end after freshman year; science majors have to cover the cost of lab fees and film majors have to pay for additional studio time.
In another example, Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts charged students a $1,470 capital projects fee that helps the school upgrade their equipment and make improvements on campus.
Furthermore, certain financial aid programs require students to cover any fees that are incurred. That means if students have to take out student loans to cover these fees, they’ll be paying back those fees over many years.
Fees at public universities increased by 100 percent from 2000 to 2017, the Boston Globe reported. In comparison, tuition rates have increased by 80 percent. Additional fees now make up roughly 21 percent of a student’s final bill.
A professor told the Boston Globe that this is largely due to decreased support from taxpayers and the school’s reluctance to raise tuition prices. Most Massachusetts schools are allowed to keep the revenue they earn from fees while tuition money must be turned over to the state.
A financial advisor told the Boston Globe that students should always check on any fees that they don’t understand and ask if the college will waive them – you can see how to write an appeal letter here. But many of these fees are easy to overlook amid the many emails and other paperwork that colleges send over the summer.