In March 2020, the Board of Trustees at the University of Oregon put into effect a “freeze” on student fees, meaning that students will pay the same fees for up to five years of their undergraduate attendance at the UO.
While this pledge offers financial security for incoming students, the breakdown of what fees they’re charged and where the money goes remains important for students to understand.
“The fees are a pain, but when you realize what you get for them, it’s actually quite an interesting thing to explore,” said Debbie Sharp, Longtime Tuition and Fee Advisory Board (TFAB) Supporter and Project Manager in Finance & Communication.
Current undergraduate students enrolled at the Eugene campus of the University of Oregon pay a total of $787.56 in fees per term. Students can find an overview of the fees they’ll be charged here.
With a historic year, three student fees in particular are encountering changes in their amount or application that call for every student’s attention.
The South Fitness Playground and a debt to be paid
Recreation Center Fee: $110.56
According to the University of Oregon Office of the Registrar, the Recreation Center fee that students pay is going to pay off a debt for the construction and renovation of the student recreation center.
In addition to paying off a debt, this fee covers repairs, equipment replacement, preventative maintenance, salaries, benefits, student employee wages, and utilities, said Sharp.
The Student Recreation Center fees were refunded back to students over the spring and summer terms in 2020 due to the center being closed to limit the spread of coronavirus. The center instead held virtual fitness classes including yoga and barre groups that continue today.
Recreation Center fees began again in the fall as the center was opened at a limited capacity, and continued for Winter term with the opening of the South Fitness Playground with bikes and free weights. Lap swim and bouldering has also opened up at a limited capacity as of Feb. 3, according to the PE and Rec site.
There are currently no projections for when the Student Recreation Center will reopen at full capacity.
Ensuring a healthy and safe campus
Health Service Fee: $233.25
The Office of the Registrar states that the Health Service fee supports a wide array of services, including immunization compliance and health education and wellness activities. Debra Beck, executive director of University Health Services, said that this year, money from this fee is also being used for COVID-19 tests, teletherapy, and virtual wellness classes. The fee supports numerous student organizations, such as Protection Connection, which provides free condoms, lubricant, and dental dams.
A wide array of virtual events which are listed on Duck Nest, such as resilience training and guided meditations, are being funded by this fee.
The Health Service fee doesn’t cover everything health-related. The Health Services FAQ page explains that a student needs insurance to have access to services like birth control, STI tests, and surgeries. It also doesn’t cover menstrual products or pregnancy tests. If a student is interested in speaking up about the Health Service fee, getting involved in the Student Health Advisory Committee is an excellent option.
Decided by students, for students
Incidental fees: $271.75
The Incidental fee, also known as the I-Fee, changes based on requests from the Associated Students of The University of Oregon (ASUO).
“It’s pretty much just a student fee by students or programs that benefit students,” Conrad Sproul, ASUO Finance Director, said.
The benefits students may notice include free bus passes throughout Lane County and funding for more than 200 student organizations. Some additional services aided by the I-Fee include: Ducks After Dark, Sexual Assault Support Services, ASUO Legal Services, student publications such as The Daily Emerald, and athletic tickets.
However, the ASUO recently announced a proposal to end the funneling of I-Fees towards student athletic tickets. According to a post released on Instagram, ASUO hopes to reallocate the $1.8 million toward programs that will expand menstrual product availability, housing and textbook subsidies, student wage increases, and additional program initiatives to increase student assistance.
“After a lot of deliberation, I think the conclusion was those programs would be more beneficial for the student body overall than the chance at potentially getting a free football ticket a couple times a year,” Conrad said.
Looking forward — upcoming proposal
President Schill welcomes the public to submit recommendations for the TFAB’s 2021–2022 tuition and fees proposal until 5 p.m. on Monday, February 22.
Final decisions on this proposal will be set in early March by the Board of Trustees.