The University, in an effort to make student life at U of C both easier and more fun, has decided to enact change through a seemingly unpleasant means: more fees.
The student activities fee has been raised for new and returning students for the 2005-2006 academic year, and a new lifetime transcript fee has been put into place for ordering academic records.
The lifetime transcript fee is part of a new method of transcript distribution, involving a one-time fee that allows students to order an unlimited number of official transcripts.
Currently students are required to pay a fee of $7 per transcript if ordered in person at the registrar's office or through the mail, and $10 per transcript if ordered online. Over the years the fees can add up, as transcripts are necessary for applications, fellowships, study abroad programs, and graduate and professional schools, resulting in unnecessary expenses for the already financially burdened student body.
For the coming transitional year, the lifetime transcript fee will be set at $25 for returning students, who may have already spent money on ordering transcripts, and $35 for entering students. After next year, only entering students will be billed the lifetime transcript fee in their first year.
The new system promises to lower the potentially high price of sending out multiple transcripts, as the fee will pay for itself after four or five transcripts are ordered by returning and new students, respectively.
The student activities fee will undergo a 5-percent increase, from $56 to $59 per quarter for students in the college, and from $39 to $41 for graduate students, reflecting the concurrent tuition increase.
According to Bill Michel, assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of the College, the University has raised the fee every year since the mid-'90s to keep up with expenditures of student organizations. He explained that the gradual increase of the fee over time allows the University to avoid large increases every couple of years.
Although it may just seem like another petty fee that appears on students' bills, Michel claimed that the student activities fee does in fact improve the quality of student life. "The student activities fee provides important resources that make the work of student organizations possible and significantly contribute to student life on campus. The fee is collected by the University and then distributed through various student funding committees to support student activities organized for and by students," Michel said.
Sharlene Holly, the director of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA), noted in her statement concerning the fee that the funds not only help finance student activities and organizations, but also increases the percentage of graduate student funds given back to each school and division to fund programming specifically aimed at graduate students.
Holly wrote, "Based on the number of fees paid by students this year, we anticipate that next year the fee will provide $1,203,000 in support for the University-wide student activities fee funding committees and an additional $320,000 to be returned to the graduate schools and divisions for programming in their specific areas."