Graduate Student Fees

Interested in what our colleagues at the Ohio State University, University of Michigan, Rutgers and other universities are doing to address student fees? Click on the title to read an article on the fee waivers at Rutgers and University of Michigan and how other graduate employees are mobilizing to include fee waivers in their union contracts.

From: AFT Higher Education News
Fee Increases Rile Graduate Employees
Seth Young doesn’t have time to visit the $140 million recreation center at Ohio State University. He’ll never scale the climbing wall, swim the three pools or play indoor golf, and he doesn’t want to foot the bill for this “flashy new facility.”
That’s why Young, president of the Graduates and Employees Student Organization/OFT/AFT (GESO), organized a protest to waive student fees for graduate employees. Fees have risen from $9 four years ago to $100 per quarter next year, due to $76 levied for the new facility; a bus fee ($9); and a student activities fee ($15). Graduate stipends have not increased accordingly, so the fees amount to a pay cut.
Graduate employees, like faculty and staff, should be exempt from student fees, says Young. Tuition is waived, and fees should be part of that package. “This is the back door where the university can get tuition money,” he says.
GESO, still working toward recognition as the graduate employee representative, already has gathered 600 signatures on a fee protest petition. In 2003, it was a similar petition that won 75 percent healthcare coverage, up from 42 percent. “These are the direct results of having a union,” says Young. “With a lot of numbers on the [current] petition, we’ll get some results.”
At Rutgers, that’s exactly what the union got. Rutgers AAUP/AFT won a 10 percent pay increase for 2004-05 and a waiver on student fees, plus a refund for fees paid in 2003-04. The Graduate Employees’ Organization/AFT at the University of Michigan got the international student Sevis fee waived, and capped the registration fee at $80.
Florida graduate employees are not so lucky. Todd Reynolds, president of the Graduate Assistants Union/AFT, pays $342 a semester in fees; other employees pay $456 in this per-credit system. Fees cover, among other things, bands to play on campus. “I would much rather use that money to pay for groceries,” says Reynolds.
At least Florida’s fees are lower because the union negotiated that they be based on in-state tuition. Fees will probably be negotiated again next year.
Temple University Graduate Student Association/AFT (TUGSA) also will negotiate fees that Andrew Dixon, TUGSA co-president, considers part of tuition. “If you’re charging us fees, you’re not giving us a full tuition waiver,” says Dixon.
“Fees are an end run around tuition increases for undergraduates and graduate students,” says Chris Goff, former president of the Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation at the University of Oregon and liaison for the AFT Alliance of Graduate Employee Locals. “Graduate employees are the victims of a bait and switch—the institution promises to take care of them, but they are slapped with hundreds of dollars in fees when they arrive on campus.” [Virginia Myers Kelly] October 31, 2005