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Education

An Often Overlooked Component of the High Cost of College

UNC Chapel Hill (Wikimedia Commons )

People talk a lot about rising tuition charges at colleges and universities, but there is another aspect of the cost of attending that people forget about — mandatory fees. That’s the subject of today’s Martin Center article.

Will Rierson, a recent graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, writes about the high and increasing burden of mandatory fees:

Mandatory student fees are slowly going up at North Carolina public universities, making attendance more expensive and raising questions about the true need and value of the amenities they help provide. Those fees have risen by 16.9 percent since the 2015-2016 academic year, on average, and schools are planning another markup set to take effect this fall.

UNC system mandatory fees pay for a variety of university costs, including:

  • Athletics
  • Health Services
  • Student Activities
  • Educational and Technology
  • Campus Security
  • Debt Service
  • Association of Student Governments ($1 per student)”

The UNC Board of Governors is considering an increase in fees for the next academic year. If the proposal is approved, students will be hit with another 2.4 percent.

A large amount goes into athletics, even though many students couldn’t care less about how “their” football and basketball teams do. Another chunk goes toward politically-oriented activism. Rierson quotes David French on that:

Student fees prop up interest groups, and sometimes they support ideologically driven campus ‘centers’ dedicated to gender equity or LGBT equality. The end result is that students are involuntarily forced to fund an enormous amount of campus activism. It’s a comprehensive system of compelled speech that would be shockingly unconstitutional virtually everywhere but the academy, where the Supreme Court has ruled that the university’s educational mission gives it the authority to compel student funding [of] student expression.

Mandatory student fees are a bad habit that colleges have fallen into. Why not tell student groups to raise the money they need voluntarily?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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