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Student fees explained: What do they pay for?

The Student Fees Advisory Committee heard funding requests for Fiscal Year 2019, which goes into effect August 2018, this fall. The Committee’s recommendation marks the first student fee increase since FY 2017, decided in fall 2015. Data for FY 2012 not available. | The Cougar News Services

Between funding new instruments for the Spirit of Houston, paying the Counseling and Psychological Services staff and securing annual talent for the Frontier Fiesta concert, UH’s nearly $23 million in student fees is distributed widely throughout campus.

The determination and allocation of Student Services Fees — the roughly $250 semesterly addendum to every UH student’s cost of attendance — is recommended each fall by the Student Fees Advisory Committee, established by the Texas Education Code.

Most notably, SFAC recommended in 2011 a $50 increase in student fees, $45 of which to fund the construction of new athletics facilities, including TDECU Stadium. The increase was put to a student referendum in February 2016, as recommended by the Committee, and the increased fee took effect Fall 2012.

The committee, which consists of seven students and two faculty representatives under a non-voting adviser, fields presentations and requests from fee-funded student organizations and campus departments, including The Cougar. After weeks of deliberation, it sends a report with its funding recommendations to UH’s Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, and President Renu Khator.

Khator then presents her recommendations to the University of Houston System Board of Regents. Should these recommendations differ significantly from those of the committee, Chapter 4 of the Texas Education Code stipulates SFAC be notified.

According to the Code, “the president shall duly consider the recommendations of the student fees advisory committee during the annual budgetary process.” So, as always, Khator has final say over spending decisions, but the committee has input.

Approved SFAC allocations go into effect the following fiscal year, which begins on Sept. 1 each year. For FY 2019, covering the 2018-2019 academic term, the Committee recommended a $5 increase to the student fee, bringing the total to $260 for full-time students in the fall and spring semesters.

Other departments and organizations funded through student fees include the Center for Student Involvement, Campus Recreation, the Dean of Students Office, Homecoming, the Student Government Association and the Student Program Board.

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