It’s not only tuition that’s going up. Students are increasingly paying for college costs through higher student activity fees. Student fees are the bills charged to students at a school, in addition to normal tuition, to pay for non-academic activities and programs. According to an article by Yesenia Robles in the Denver Post:

Despite constantly rising tuition costs, students have, in recent college elections across the state, voted to approve student fee hikes to fund projects they know their schools need.

In Colorado, where a prolonged budget crunch has forced the state to reduce taxpayer contributions for operating expenses at universities, students have for the most part approved increases to pay for tangible, capital improvements that benefit themselves, such as new housing, laboratories and classrooms.

What’s true in Colorado appears to be the case in other states too. American colleges are increasingly using student fees to pay for fundamental aspects of college; not just ultimate Frisbee, but science laboratories and crucial building maintenance.

But that’s because these things are to the point of emergency. Of course you fix the roof when it caves in; you have to. According to the article, “It got to the point students were willing to put forth money out of their pockets,” said Samantha O’Brien, a student at Metropolitan State College.

“. . . I won’t be a student here when the projects are complete,” said O’Brien. “But I do know my degree will only gain in value.”

That’s actually not true. It’s only basic degree maintenance. Metro State, where she goes to college, is using additional student fees to ease classroom crowding.

Currently some students at Metro State attend class in trailers on campus. So yes, the extra student fees will improve things, but it won’t really make the Metro state degree more prestigious, it will only stop the degree from degrading. Not taking college classes in trailers is a pretty basic expectation students have of college. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer