WASHINGTON – Tuition is not the only thing on the rise on Maryland college campuses.
As schools across the state expand their extracurricular programs and build new facilities to attract students, the mandatory fees that go along with tuition are also rising, delving further into the shallow pockets of students.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County, for example, will impose a 16 percent hike in mandatory fees for students next year in addition to a 4 percent increase in tuition.
Mark Belm, vice president for administrative affairs at UMBC, said the school has no choice but to charge students for the services they request.
“The increase is associated with auxiliary services that are not state- supported. Tuition is state-supported, fees are not,” he said.
“The increase will help fund a new $28 million student union building and, in general, fees are going up to provide additional services such as recreational facilities,” he said.
Belm said student response to the increase has been positive but that the university is looking at ways to defer the direct costs students pay for special programs.
“We have reallocated money from some areas and cut back on others as necessary to create funds for other programs,” he said. “We are always trying to figure out how we might allocate people and resources from one [area] to another.”
William Barnes, president of UMBC’s Student Government Association, said students were receptive to the fee hike once they understood how the money would be spent.
“I think the initial concern with the increase was that students weren’t really seeing where the money went,” he said. “But the university has made great strides in explaining to students directly where the money goes and what it goes toward.”
Barnes said the overall reaction in a series of forums with university officials was that students were willing to pay for better services.
“It came down to them [students] seeing that the money was going to go for a new university commons building and parking and other things the students really want,” he said. “The students said they are willing to pay to have the privileges that students on other campuses have.”
Not all students in the university system see the benefits of the mandatory fees, however.
Adriene Williams, a junior at the University of Maryland College Park, said she is frustrated by escalating fees and is tired of having to pay more for services she doesn’t use.
“We all have to pay for some things we may not even make use of. I don’t go to any of the athletic events yet I have to pay so that the athletes can get a stipend,” she said. “I’m puzzled about that.”