Most student course fees suspended for fall semester

On July 2, following an affirmative decision by the Cal Poly Pomona Fee Advisory Committee, President Soraya Coley approved the suspension of most Category III fees. It is expected that the suspension of Category III fees, also known as course fees, will be mostly felt by students enrolled in laboratories and other activity courses.

According to the California State University (CSU) Student Fee Policy, Category III fees are fees charged for “materials and services used in concert with the basic foundation of an academic course offering.” These fees are not charged to every student and only apply to students in specific courses.

The university’s Category III fee suspension specifically targets fees normally used for physical materials needed for some courses. The suspension would not apply to digital materials offered through the Bronco Bookstore’s Instant Access program—a program that uses course fees to automatically equip students with required course materials at reduced prices.

Director of Academic Resources and member of the fee advisory committee, Lisa Rotunni was involved in the initial recommendation to suspend the course fees and explained the rationale for suspension.

“Knowing that we would be continuing under virtual instruction during the fall, in most cases, the (number) of supplies that might be needed even if the faculty member was doing a demonstration or something for a laboratory would be much reduced from whatever was normally a cost.” Rotunni added, “The university is sensitive to this being a difficult economic time for everyone and so we wanted to reduce the cost for students if that was possible.”

According to Kaitlyn Sedzman, executive director of operations at the Division of Student Affairs, the average cost of these course fees is $40 per course—leading to estimates of more than $160,000 in total student cost reduction for the fall semester.

It was an important consideration to have the suspension of these fees occur as soon as possible, according to Rotunni. Once the Division of Student Affairs made their initial recommendation to suspend these fees to Coley, the president sent the recommendation to the Fee Advisory Committee for their input.

While the suspension of fees has not been widely publicized to the student body, Rotunni confirmed that affected students would be alerted of this change via a note attached to the impacted courses.

The committee, which usually meets during the semester, convened for an emergency meeting on July 1 which, according to ASI President and committee member  Lucy Yu, resulted in unanimous approval of the recommendation. The following day, Coley approved the suspension of the fees.

While the CSU Student Fee Policy, gives the CSU chancellor the ultimate authority over Category III fees, the same policy provides each campus’ president with “limited authority” to adjust course fees within a specified range of $0 to $150 for most material fees and $0 to $3,000 for field trips and off-campus travel. Since the range specifies $0 as the minimum amount, Coley’s approval was sufficient to suspend these fees.

The same policy also mandates the establishment of a fee advisory committee on each campus—with a majority of its voting members required to be students. Alongside Yu, ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh, ASI Treasurer Clayton Kusayanagi, Inter-Hall Council Senator-At-Large Prabhat Jammalamadaka and Greek Council Senator-At-Large Hillary Deleon make up the student membership of the advisory committee.

When asked about other fees that could be reduced or suspended in the committee, Singh, a fourth-year environmental biology student, said that while ASI leadership is considering efforts to diminish students’ economic hardships, no ASI fees have been identified to be reduced or suspended so far.

Sing acknowledged that while there has been criticism from students for having to continue paying ASI fees despite the shift to virtual instruction, it would “not be feasible” to significantly reduce those fees.

Singh cited continued bond payments for the Bronco Student Center (BSC) and the Bronco Recreation and Intramural Complex as well as maintenance for the facilities as reasons for this lack of feasibility.

With fee payment deadlines already past, the likelihood of similar fee reductions for the upcoming semester by the fee advisory committee is small. Still, it is expected that the committee will continue to meet for their regular budget reports or fee adjustment requests.

For more information on the committee, or to request the establishment of a new fee or adjustment to an existing fee visit https://www.cpp.edu/fee_advisory/index.shtml.

To see a summary and breakdown of fall semester payments, students can access their student center through my.cpp.edu, open the other financial drop-down option found within the finances section and select charges due.

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