When checking finances on ConnectCarolina, students may notice a number of different fees charged to their student account. Many students do not know what these fees go toward or what is covered with their payments.
Student fee breakdown
When looking at the “Student Financials” section of the ConnectCarolina Student Center, a tab labeled “Account Activity” presents the list of accepted financial aid offers unique to each student. The tab is accessed using the drop down menu labeled "other financial... ." After these offers, the student fees can be seen.
Listed on "Account Activity" is a breakdown of these fees: what they are, who creates them and who has the ability to change them.
Below are a few examples of mandatory student fees and their uses:
- A.P.P.L.E.S. Program: funds a student-led program to engage students, faculty and other community agencies in service-learning partnerships.
- MISC. Registration: funds the upkeep and maintenance of class registration processes.
- MISC. Student Transit/SafeRide: supports the enhancement of transportation to campus and other surrounding areas.
- Student Endowed Library Fund: assists in funding various library services.
- Renewable Energy: encourages the use of sustainable energy alternatives.
The Student Fee Advisory Subcommittee is co-chaired by the associate vice chancellor for finance and budget – who acts as a designee for the vice chancellor for finance and operations — and the student body president.
“Student fees are selected by the Board of Governors. All of them have to be approved, but the process for adjusting them and levying them begins at the campus level,” Logan Grodsky, undergraduate treasurer for the Undergraduate Student Government, said.
As treasurer, Grodsky is also co-chair of the Student Fee Audit Committee, which initiates the first step of the review process.
He said fees are reviewed by the committee during each fall semester, which is preceded by a round of various audits in the spring.
“We call up the units and we ask them to come in and present on what their fee is being used for,” Grodsky said. “What its efficacy is, what the numbers are, do they need more, do they need less? And that helps set the stage for fee review in the fall.”
This past fall, Grodsky said the committee only reviewed one adjustment request, which came from Kenan-Flagler Business School, and requested a 50-percent increase to its undergraduate program enrichment fee.
Grodsky said this request is a good example of how the fee process works, noting that the committee counterposed a 20 percent increase to the fee in order to keep up with inflation.
“This [counterproposal] was sent in a memorandum produced by students including myself to SFAS. SFAS ultimately recommended that to (the Tuition Fee Advisory Taskforce), and TFAT had adopted our recommendation and that's likely to be what goes into effect,” Grodsky said.
Approved student fees are set to support different University programs and services. The Student Fee Advisory Subcommittee is a subcommittee of the Tuition Fee Advisory Taskforce charged with managing the student fee submission and review process after it passes through the Student Fee Audit Committee.
To properly oversee all facets of student fees and charges, the Student Fee Advisory Subcommittee committee also reviews all fee requests and makes recommendations to the Tuition Fee Advisory Taskforce.
“The final decision on fee proposals to the University's Board of Trustees remains with the chancellor,” UNC Media Relations said in an email statement. “Once Board of Trustees approval is received, fee requests are then forwarded to the UNC System Board of Governors for consideration, with the exception of Miscellaneous Charges, which only require the approval of the chancellor and the UNC System President.”
Anna Brady, a UNC senior, said she doesn’t know exactly what the fees are going to and hopes for more transparency within student finances in the future.
“It's not necessarily about eliminating certain things off of the charges, but making sure that there's transparency in what that funding is going for,” she said.
Brady currently serves as a senior marshal for the graduating class of 2023 and spoke about the senior class enrichment fee.
The senior fee is charged annually to graduating seniors and funds events and opportunities for the senior class. Though this fee is unique to just seniors, it still charges the student through ConnectCarolina.
“We have certain events that we can do, and we sell T-shirts to raise money as well,” Brady said. “A lot of those events come later on, like during Senior Week, so I guess we'll see more of the benefits of that charge later.”
For a list of approved student fees and their descriptions, visit the Student Fees page of the UNC Finance and Operations website.
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