(Buffalo, N.Y.) – SUNY Buffalo State – among other colleges in the U.S. – provides their students with a generalized summary regarding the disbursement of tuition costs. Along with every SUNY school in New York, Buffalo State charges students a college fee, but provides little information about what that money goes towards.
Full-time students are charged $12.50, while part-time students pay $0.85 per credit hour.
Buffalo State senior Ben Joe said he was shocked to hear the fee existed, and never saw it on his tuition bill before.
“I want to know where the hell my money is going,” said Joe.
Becky Schenk, director of budget and internal controls at Buffalo State, said the fee was first implemented in 1963 at all SUNY schools to help support campus operations.
“It’s a SUNY policy and it is true at every campus,” said Schenk. “So each campus will collect from the students in attendance their portion of that college fee and that stays at the campus.”
While the fee is collected from every SUNY college, the use of the fee has changed over time. Today the fee goes towards Buffalo State’s main basis of support, but it was previously used to pay for the residents halls.
“Initially it was being used to help offset a piece of the residents hall costs,” said Schenk. “At that time residents halls – where they existed – were not operating under the same concept they do today, which is self-sufficiency.”
Schenk said the current cost of running the residents halls is built into the price that students pay when they become a resident. The transition happened over time, slowly changing what the money was being used for. She said the college fee has always been used to support campus operations in some way.
Today these operations include – but are not limited to – the university police, faculty, classrooms, student services, and support personnel.
“So it is used – along with the tuition that gets collected from students to support the cost of pretty much everything you see at Buffalo State,” she said.
Schenk said the fee is estimated to collect about $200,000 every year at Buffalo State, but overall it does not collect nearly as much as other fees. So the funds from the college fee go into the main budget of the college rather than a separate entity, such as the athletic fee.
“It does not seem like a big number compared to many of the other big numbers that we talk about,” she said.
Schenk said the fee has not changed since its inception 50 years ago, and added it is unlikely the fee will increase in the years to come.
“I don’t think there would be any reason why someone would look to this particular item and say ‘lets open it up for discussion, and raise it,’” she said. “And that is frankly because of the current environment we do live in where we have fees at the campus that are charged to students for technology and for athletics and for health services.”
Although the cost of the fee has not changed, Joe said Buffalo State should consider changing the name of the fee to better inform students. He said the title could be less ambiguous, since he did not know where the funds were going based on the name alone.
Joe said a different name would be less confusing for students, and give them a better idea about where their money is going.
“Well they could be less sneaky about it,” said Joe. “I would probably let them take my money anyway, but I would like them to be more up front about it.”