Board of Trustees passes power over student fee increases

The power to raise student fees now lies with the Student Affairs Committee after a unanimous vote by University Board of Trustees. 

On Monday, the University Board of Trustees voted on a resolution to delegate authority to the Student Affairs Committee, which will hear any annual requests for fee increases, to approve mandatory fee increases for full-time and part-time students. This responsibility previously belonged to the Board of Trustees, which had final say over the University’s operating budget, including student fees. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher heads the Board which, “is responsible for advancing the purposes of the University; promoting and protecting its independence, academic freedom, and integrity; and enhancing and preserving its assets for the benefit of future generations of students and society at large,” according to the Board of Trustee’s website.  The Student Affairs Committee members include Pitt faculty, administrators and students. 

Activity Fees of $160 per student annually funnel into the Student Activity Fund that the Student Government Board, from which the Board allocates funds to student groups. The Wellness Fees, which pays for student health services, cost $210, the Computing and Network Services Fees cost $350 and the Security, Safety and Transportation Fees cost $180.

University spokesperson Ken Service said the resolution is a procedural change that does not determine whether or not the committee will increase mandatory fees this year.

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The Student Affairs Committee must report to the Budget Committee, a committee that endorses the University’s operating budget ,to include fees in the budget. The Board of Trustees approved a $1.97 billion budget for the fiscal year last July.

Service said he does not know of any future fee increases, but pointed out that fees were increased in 2014. The Board raised the annual wellness fee from $170 to $210, hiking up the total full-time student fees to $900, according to the list of mandatory fees published by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. 

The resolution states that mandatory student fee increases are “based on the length of time since the last increase and the specific use for the increase.”

According to the Student Affairs Committee’s resolution, individual fees typically increase by $10 to $40 about  every five years. 

If history is any indication, then student fees are likely to climb. During the 2004-2005 school year, the total cost of mandatory student fees was $700, compared to the current $900 total. 

“Student fees are raised to meet increased costs of the services provided,” University spokesperson John Fedele said in an email. “And due care is taken to consider the effect that increased costs have on the student body.”