Bang for your buck

We’ve all worked hard to get here. We just hope our money is well spent. Starting today, ‘The Houstonian’ begins its ‘Bang for your Buck’ Series. Our staff will publish weekly segments examining how student fees are appropriated, the function of these fees and how the decisions are made. It’s your right to know what happens to your money.

For university students, “fees” are ever-present, but usually not quite fully understood. The seemingly unintelligible lines of fine print on the tuition and fees statement represent a significant portion of each semester’s costs. In the following ten part series, entitled “Bang for Your Buck,” The Houstonian will attempt to shed some light on SHSU’s various fees.

In the past, universities received large portions of their funding from the state. According to Keith Jenkins, non-voting member of SHSU’s Student Service Fee Advisory Committee, most Texas universities now receive less than 30 percent of their funding from the state level. The rest of the bill is paid by students via tuition and fees.

The fees allow for many of the unique benefits afforded to students here at SHSU that are not so readily available outside the university system. Student activities, legal services, affordable health care and academic advisement are all the products of additional charges in the form of fees.

It should be noted that state law provides for the introduction of new fees by a majority vote of the student population. This is a law that Jenkins strongly encourages students to take advantage of. If students want something new on campus that requires significant funding, they should “get the ball rolling” by presenting their ideas to the Student Government Association.

A perfect example is recent interest in having the Bearkat One office provide financial planning services for students, as some other Texas universities do. The Bearkat One office will present the idea to the SGA in the near future.

“The major difference between Sam and other Texas schools is often service fees,” Jenkins said.

Many times the difference is a lower fee for the very same service.

The Bang for Your Buck series will cover the student service fee (which includes the BearKat OneCard, student activities, and legal services), the LSC fee, computer use fee, recreation fee, international education fee, library fee, academic advisement fee, health center fee, records fee and parking permit.

Next week Bang for Your Buck will cover the Student Service Fee Advisory Committee and their latest innovation, the Campus Life Development Fund. The committee is made up of both students and university employees, and was created by university policy under the Texas Education Code to administrate the student service fee.

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