Making cents of New College’s tuition fees
On New College’s website, ncf.edu, the 2017-2018 estimated total cost of tuition and fees is $6,916. This is not including room & board which is estimated at $9,264. Every student can find the breakdown of their cost of attendance in NewCleis, the college’s online information system for student profiles.
However, this breakdown does not include any sort of description of what these fees are or what they are for. Some of them are self-explanatory like the meal plan and parking pass. Others can be more misleading like the “student fin aid fee”. Is it a fee for receiving financial aid or a fee that collects money to allocate as financial aid? Or both?
Second-year Grace Harrison who is a receiver of financial aid said in an online interview, “Why is there a financial aid charge? That is so counterproductive. And where does it go? It should just be staying with me.” This information is not as easily accessible to students as one might wish.
Brief descriptions of each fee can be found separately from a student’s bill on the public website of the college as a downloadable pdf from a page titled “Tuition & Fee Schedule”, but this is not common knowledge.
“Honestly, I thought the only descriptions we had of them were on NewCleis where we have the list of our charges overall,” Harrison said.
In regards to the student financial aid fee, the section states at least 75 percent “of the revenue generated by these fees must be used to support need based student financial aid.” Where the other 25 percent goes, it does not say. The question of whether this fee is applied to all students or just to those with financial aid is also not addressed.
Other fee titles in NewCleis are just not useful for students trying to understand what they are paying for. The tuition differential is the second most expensive fee, beat only by the matriculation–enrollment–fee, yet many students pay it without knowing what it is for or where the money goes. In a poll that asked students about their knowledge of the tuition differential charge posted to the Forum–the school’s student listserv–Sept. 5, three days before this fall’s tuition payment deadline, only 25.4 percent knew what it was and less than 13 percent knew what it was for.
The description of the tuition differential fee on the “Tuition & Fee Schedule” downloadable PDF states “at least 30 percent of revenue generated by tuition differential must be used for need based student financial aid.” It is only made clear where the other 70 percent of the revenue goes on the Florida Senate website, flsenate.gov. To get to this information, one must navigate through five pages to find a useful–though still vague–description of this fee in Section 24 of Chapter 1009 of Title XLVIII, a description which states, “Seventy percent of the revenues from the tuition differential shall be expended for purposes of undergraduate education. Such expenditures may include, but are not limited to, increasing course offerings, improving graduation rates, increasing the percentage of undergraduate students who are taught by faculty, decreasing student-faculty ratios, providing salary increases for faculty who have a history of excellent teaching in undergraduate courses, improving the efficiency of the delivery of undergraduate education through academic advisement and counseling, and reducing the percentage of students who graduate with excess hours.”
The green fee, a NCF-specific fee, is “a small fee paid by each student, providing about $28,000 each year for sustainable projects on campus,” according to the college’s website.
“It has funded projects like the composting program, the food forest, and the solar panels on the new Heiser building. The Green Fee allocation money is given out by the CGA in monthly meetings where students can present ideas for projects and get funding through the school,” Steven Monroe (‘15), last year’s compost T.A. and a previous member of the CGA, said. The green fee description on the downloadable pdf states it was put into effect “with the 2012 fall semester.” “Last year the green fee had backlogged to roughly $100,000” Monroe continued.
According to Adilyne McKinlay, 2014’s Vice President of Green Affairs (VPGA), one of the reasons there was such a buildup of allocation money was “students didn’t know that they could request money from the Green Fee or what they could request money for.”