CSU Budget Central

What is a Student Success Fee?

What is a Student Success Fee?

A “Student Success Fee” is the name given to a type of campus-based, campus-driven, campus-controlled fee designed to enhance the quality of academic programs and the experience of students on a specific campus.

Due to local control, no “Student Success Fee” is identical to any other. Each reflects the priorities of the campus where it is adopted.

A Student Success Fee is not Tuition

All fees are governed by policy, with every effort made to keep student costs to a minimum.

Most students are familiar with tuition fees. Those are the fees that combine with state support to cover the bulk of CSU operating costs – everything from paying a professor’s salary and benefits to keeping the lights on in university buildings. In short, tuition fees (augmented by an approximately equal amount of state support) pay to provide basic student access to a CSU education. These fees are set at the system level.

Students also pay a variety of campus-based fees, those assessed at the recommendation of the campus. These funds are paid, held and managed at the campus for local priorities. These fees may fund student government and advocacy, student union facilities, recreation centers, health services, scholarships and student research grants among many other areas.

These fees go into four broad areas: fees required to enroll or attend a campus; fees associated with particular courses; fees for materials, services or use of campus facilities; and fees for self-supported activities (e.g. parking).

A Student Success Fee is in the category of materials, services or use of campus facilities. It exists to enhance academic programs, improve the availability of courses and facilitate student progress toward degree completion.

A Student Success Fee Pays for Quality

A Student Success Fee enhances the quality of the campus environment, beyond the basic level of access ensured by state and tuition funding. It may cover mental-health programs, peer-to-peer advising, library resources or career programs. It may even provide for essential amenities – like a study space with internet connectivity.

Other examples include:  expanding library hours, expanding services for disabled students and veterans, hiring additional academic counselors, adding and outfitting additional laboratory space, enhancing the technology infrastructure, and funding capital improvements including library expansion projects.

A Student Success Fee Originates at the Campus

The campus community determines the need for a Student Success Fee and how the fee revenue may be used to improve the quality of academic programs or the experience on campus for students.

Campuses may use a referendum or alternative consultation process to determine whether to recommend a fee. The alternative consultation process gives the campus the ability to educate, reach and glean feedback from a greater cross section of full-time and part-time students than who might otherwise vote by referendum.

The Fee Advisory Committee – largely composed by students with representation from faculty and staff – helps to identify the priorities to be funded by the projected fee revenue and ultimately makes a recommendation to the president.

The president takes the recommendation under advisement and determines whether to pass it on to the chancellor. The chancellor is authorized to approve the fee based on the information submitted by the campus.

The chancellor is not eager to approve additional student fees and is lobbying the Governor and state lawmakers for more money.  However, when a campus makes a compelling case for a fee, demonstrates the need for the fee revenue and has provided documentation showing consultation with students, the chancellor may approve the fee.


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