If every tax-paying Kansan paid an additional 30 cents in taxes to go toward the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, Tim de Noble, dean of the college, said it would probably generate enough revenue to eliminate the need for their current $40 per-credit-hour technology fee.
The existing fee generated $714,570 in fiscal year 2016 and $673,355 in fiscal year 2017, and the fee is used to pay for new technology and equipment, design-laboratory chairs and desks, and the salaries of the coordinator and computer shop technologists.
The fee was first implemented in 2003 and was $14 per credit hour. In 2013, the fee increased to $35 when the college made an argument for a new building, de Noble said in his fee review presentation to the Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee.
All colleges are expected to present to the committee every three years to renew any student fees.
De Noble said that while he needed the fee to generate some revenue, it was also important to have as leverage with the state for more higher-education funding.
“After working with the students, we decided that if the students put some skin in the game, I would be able to make that argument over at the state and also with my alumni base, and it worked,” de Noble said.
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Trenton Kennedy, student body vice president and junior in entrepreneurship, said he appreciates the architecture students’ dedication to their program and how they were willing to increase fees to have leverage with the state.
Deferred fee increases
In de Noble’s presentation, he said the students in 2013 agreed the fee would increase by $5 each year for three years, up to a total of $50 per credit hour.
After the new building renovations took off, de Noble said he did not feel right continuing to raise the student technology fees since the students had to take classes at a location near the airport in the meantime.
“We have deferred raising the fee any more than that,” de Noble said.
He said he has been talking with the Dean’s Student Advisory Council to investigate other ways to generate funds without raising the fee, such as initiating “compact one-rate tuition” all the way through the five-year degree that currently includes both undergraduate and graduate-level tuition. This would make it so students pay the same tuition rate over all five years.
“We also leveraged the fee for donations,” de Noble said. “From my viewpoint, we went from a college with donations of about $1 million a year to — in the current campaign — we’ve raised just shy of $30 million, which means we’re averaging about closer to $6 million a year now.”
De Noble said the increased donation rate is because he can often use the student technology fee as leverage when talking to alumni.
“Often because literally one of the things I’ll say to an alumnus is, ‘Did you know that my students pay more money in technology fees than you paid in tuition?'” de Noble said.
Need for the fee
Jessica Van Ranken, senior in political science and student body president, asked if there would less of a need for a fee when the new building is complete.
“Honestly, no,” de Noble replied. “None of us can predict what happens 47 miles that way (to the Capitol). I don’t see the fee going away.”
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Mostly, de Noble said, because the technology needed for his students changes so rapidly, he has to be strategic about how he acquires that technology. Even with the fee, de Noble said he will wait to buy new technology until the price goes down.
“The thing is that we may not be cutting edge, but we get it when we can,” de Noble said.
When permanently located in the new building, de Noble said he will look at increasing fees again based off the original agreement, but not until after first discussing it with students.
Trent McGee, graduate student in counseling and student development, said it looks like the College of Architecture uses their fees very well, and he appreciates that the college did not ask for an increase.
“That would be something I am not for, but I am not ‘slash and burn all fees’ as much as I just don’t want to see fee increases this year,” McGee said.