ATHENS, Ga.– The biggest fee University of Georgia students pay: $450. It’s one of several additional fees students must pay, but the money from this one does not have a clear cut destination.
The $450 fee is known as the “Special Institutional Fee”. But it’s not the only additional fee students pay. Other additional fees include: athletic, transportation, health center, recreation facility, and several others. Those fees go to exactly what they say: transportation, facilities, etc.
According to University of Georgia Student Government Association (SGA) President Houston Gaines, those fees may go down in the near future. But the “Special Institutional Fee” isn’t decreasing and isn’t going away yet.
Despite the fact the special fee is $254 more than the next highest fee (University Health Center) and makes up 40% of the additional fees, it is still unclear where exactly that money goes.
We spoke with Charles Outlive, Vice Chancellor of Communication for the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, he said, “money from that fee is going directly into the academic support and services provided onto your campus”.
In order to make more sense of the fee, we looked at three different financial categories: state funding, tuition, and net income (university revenue minus expenditures).
The “Special Institutional Fee” started as a temporary $100 fee in 2009 when the University System of Georgia Board of Regents anticipated large cuts in funding following the recession in 2007-08. Today, that fee has become a permanent fee that has inflated to 3.5 times its original size to $450.
State funding for UGA did go down between 2010 and 2012 though. A nearly $100 million drop off in that time span. But since 2013, funding has slowly started to increase and make its way back to its $397 million high in 2009. For 2017, state funding will be at $342 million.
State funding has seen these fluctuations across the last eight years, but tuition has only seen one trend: up and up.
Since 2007, UGA in-state tuition has increased 92.4 percent. Tuition was $2,274 then, but today students pay $4,682.
The total amount of funding from tuition at UGA has doubled since 2008 when the special fee was introduced. For 2017, UGA will bring in $366 million from tuition.
Over the past three years, UGA is putting up positive numbers in terms of net income. In 2006, before the Special Institutional Fee was introduced, UGA had a net income of $15.5 million. For 2016, that number is at $25 million.
Much like the state appropriations, UGA net income also saw fluctuations between 2008 and 2013. Net income stayed at $15 million in 2008, but that was followed up by a decrease to $2 million, an increase to $22 million, a drastic decrease to -$4 million, and then an increase again to $12 million.
But since 2014, UGA net income has stayed above $15 million. In fact, the last three years have seen the highest net income for UGA in 12 years.
Tuition has steadily increased. State funding has seen some fluctuations but is now steadily rising again. And UGA net income is now higher than it has been in the last 12 years. According to the University System of Georgia and the UGA Bursar’s office, the Special Institutional Fee was used to temporarily make up for those fluctuations.
And despite all of this, there is not a time table for if or when the fee will be reduced or removed.
By: Miles Moraitis & Alex Makrides