The Student Activity Fee Board is discussing a recommended increase of the Student Activity fee — a move that’s related to the consumer price index, as outlined in the Student Activity Fee Handbook.
Each month, government economists release the consumer price index, which is a measure of the average change in the prices paid by consumers for various goods and services, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
The consumer price index is used as an economic indicator and is the most widely used measure of inflation, according to the website.
The Student Activity Fee is supposed to increase with inflation each year in order maintain the purchase power of the Student Activity Fee funds, Jesse Scott, University Park Allocation Committee Chair and Student Activity Fee Board member said.
After Scott (graduate-computer science and engineering) completed calculations and research regarding the Student Activity Fee, he said he found that a $2 increase would keep up with the consumer price index for inflation.
According to the Student Activity Fee handbook, the fee was originally set in 1995 at $25 per semester and an adjustment of $1 per semester was made in the spring of 1999 because of inflation. Each year since then, the fee has continued to be adjusted for inflation and to give extra support for programs, according to the handbook.
Currently, for the fall 2012/spring 2013 semesters, every student at University Park taking nine or more credits pays the $85 fee each semester.
There is a three-tier system currently in place across the Commonwealth Campuses in which the Student Activity Fee Board determines the values. Tier one is $85 per semester, tier two is $82 per semester and tier three is $78 per semester, Scott said.
It is up to the individual campuses to select which tier is most appropriate for their campus, according to the Student Activity Fee handbook. However, University Park is required to be at tier one.
The way in which the campuses determine what part of the tier they are at depends on factors such as how they utilize their funds and on the ideals of their specific allocating committees, Scott said.
However, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and Student Activity Fee Board member Andrea Dowhower said there could be several other factors as to why the fee could see an increase.
“There are several standard reasons [for the increase] including the cost of living increases and the increasing number of requests,” Dowhower said.
Any increase in the fee that goes above the price of inflation adjustment will be put in place after the approval of the board, according to the Student Activity Fee Handbook.
Regardless of the increase, funds are allocated in the same way at University Park to various organizations such as the three student governments and to clubs and organizations on campus through general allocation requests, Scott said.
Graduate Student Association President and Student Activity Fee Board member Wanika Fisher said the fee is important because it has many purposes and benefits.
“It provides direct services to various aspects of student life from student groups, funding for travel, legal services, the mortgages on buildings like the HUB and more,” Fisher (graduate-law) said. “Student Activity Fee is a fee that enables money to be spent on out of classroom experiences that student need in developing a well-rounded education.”
Spencer Malloy, University Park Undergraduate Association Chairman of the Assembly and Student Activity Fee Board member said that the fee is important because it gives some control over how funding is managed throughout organizations.
“It is important to maintain funding for students to have access too,” Malloy (senior-philosophy and agroecology) said. “I would like to do a little more outreach before I make an informed decision on increasing the fee, but I do think we have to be cost conscious because of the cost of higher education.”
The board is set to continue discussing the fee levels at their next meeting in December and then will be voted on in January, Dowhower said.
What they vote on for the tiers will then be recommendations that will go to Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims and subsequently follow administrative channels for approval, Dowhower said.