Make the most of what student fees pay for

By Rebecca Oriza, Staff Writer

Paying for college is expensive. However, many students miss out on services they don’t even know they pay for. On top of tuition, students at the University are required to pay over $1,500 in fees.

Through the University Bursar, you can see an itemized list of fees you pay every semester on campus. The academic facility maintenance fund assessment and the general fee are the standard fees for keeping the campus facilities operating. However, the other fees are quite vague despite having so much to offer.

One of these fees is the $300 service fee. This maintains services like the Illini Union, Campus Recreation and the Student Legal Services.

The service fee also covers students’ access to gyms, recreational areas and the ARC’s food pantry. In the Union, students have numerous study spaces and access to a computer lab. The fee also helps fund the board that plans various events throughout the year, ranging from free snacks, celebrity guest talks and even a zipline.

Erika Fernanda Wieting, senior in LAS, served on the Illini Union Board. When talking about the zipline, Wieting said that it was funded by this fee.

“We have in our tuition, an activity fee, and a portion of it goes to the board so we can plan special events like this,” Wieting said. “We want as many people to come as humanly possible. There’s an entire list of events on our social media.”

Another fee is the $70 student-initiated fee. All the spending is approved by students through the student election process, and the money helps fund multiple essential services on campus such as bicycle infrastructure and environmental efforts as well as providing additional scholarship opportunities that are both merit and need based.

A portion of the fee supports the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which allows students to attend performances either for free or for a subsidized price. For example, students were able to get tickets to world-renowned orchestras such as the St. Louis Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestra for only $10, while a typical concert ticket can cost over $100.

During the symphony’s performance, Emily Laugesen, Krannert’s vice president of engagement, said the fees are responsible for lower ticket prices.

“The Krannert Center student fees are the main thing that makes those $10 tickets possible. So when staudents pay their fees in the fall and in the spring, that’s what helps make that $10 ticket a reality.”

With this discount, Laugesen hopes that students will be enticed to see one of the many performances at Krannert throughout the semester.

Another enriching cultural experience is available through the University’s Cultural Centers, which are also partially funded by the student-initiated fee. The University currently has six centers, where students have access to various resources and are welcome to events like weekly luncheons.

On top of that, the student-initiated fee also funds the collegiate readership fee that provides subscriptions to USA Today, Spotlight News, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. These subscriptions alone are worth well over $400 per year with regular pricing.

At $244, the library and information tech fee not only maintains the libraries across campus, but also provides many digital resources.

The library is arguably the most underrated service many students (and even faculty) do not utilize. Some classes require study cases from The Harvard Business Review and The Economist articles. These can cost up to $100 a semester, but all these resources and many more are readily available through the University’s digital libraries.

Another library service that isn’t well known is the media commons. This library provides loanable technology, ranging from calculators, chargers, laptops and even cameras. The media commons will be in room 306 of the Main Library starting this fall.

The transportation fee is $68, which is primarily for bus transportation. This allows access to the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District buses at stops that are across Champaign-Urbana, including off-campus bus stops by simply showing your i-card or the Illinois app.

A lesser-known service also covered by the transportation fee is the SafeRides program. SafeRides allows students to request late-night transportation where they can be dropped straight to their doorstep. The program helps students who feel unsafe walking alone by themselves.

All in all, the resources funded by these fees are worth multiple times what students actually pay for, making it a pretty sweet deal.

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