College is viewed as expensive for many reasons. When students prepare for college, they prepare for things like tuition, room, and board. But when SFA students open their E-bill, they see fees they didn’t know existed. These fees are discouraging and are only an obstacle for many students.
Online courses have always been offered at Stephen F. Austin State University. However, in Spring 2020 COVID-19 caused a rise in online class enrollment. In addition to a rise in online enrollment there is a rise in online courses offered. When you enroll in online courses you must pay a distance learning fee. If you are enrolled in face-to-face classes but have some classes that are online, you are still required to pay the distance learning fee. Most students who attend the University enroll in courses that are three credit hours. According to the University Tuition and Fees, “The Distance Learning Fee is charged to all students taking web-based courses. The current rate is $33.00 per credit hour and is in addition to the standard tuition rate.” If most students enroll in courses that are three credit hours, they are expected to pay an additional $99 for the distance learning fee. This fee has frustrated many students.
Laonna Hanson, a junior social work major from Mesquite, said, “I feel we are charged a lot to further our education and having to pay miscellaneous fees like the distance learning fee can be financially stressful for us students.”
Another aspect of University’s focus tending to be more on money than their students is the constant dilemma of parking. Students pay for a parking pass to use in lots with too limited spacing, then just end up parking a mile away from campus. Often, students try to “play the system” and not get a parking pass, yet tickets and the possibility of getting a boot on their car gives another opportunity to take students’ money. Students pay for the parking lots on campus. Students almost entirely pay for this campus.
Another fee students must pay is the Rec Sports Fee. The fee gives students access to the Student Recreation Center and is used “to purchase equipment for and to construct, operate and maintain recreational sports facilities and programs.” The fee varies for every student depending on how many credit hours they are signed up for that semester. Anyone taking over seven hours, which we believe is many students, will get a $120 fee. While it is convenient that a sports fee is factored into every student’s E-bill giving automatic access to the gym and its resources, students who will not use the facility should have the option to opt out. Many students live off-campus with other gym options. It is unfair to charge students to maintain a resource they will never use.
On the SFA Tuition and Fees page there is a breakdown of all the fees that are given to the students, but there is no clear reasoning as to what the money is going towards. The fee for the rec states “$60.00 up to 6 credit hours, $120 for 7 or more hours.” That’s an additional $60 for taking more than the minimum required classes here at SFA. As if the more classes that are taken, the more a student will use the gym, which isn’t logical.
With these several on and off campus fees, many students wonder: where is the money going? There should be a worthwhile cause being fueled by these fees.