Campus privilege fee spikes this academic year

The Privilege Fee, which aids in providing services to students, increased 6.4 percent this year. Photo credit: Logan Wassall

Kansas State students taking six credit hours or more saw a $28.50 increase to their campus privilege fee for the fall 2019 and spring 2020 semesters. That amounts to a 6.4 percent increase from the previous academic year.

The Kansas Board of Regents approved the fee increase recommendation made by the Student Governing Association and university administration in June.

The fee assists in making services available to students at the Manhattan campus — Student Health and Counseling Services, the Union Program Council and other student-centered programs.

Jansen Penny, senior in industrial engineering and student body president, served as chair of the Privilege Fee Committee during the last academic year. He said the increase per student is due to drops in enrollment and an increase to some entities that receive allocation.

“The Privilege Fee budget is set each year and we as students have to match it the following years,” Penny said. “That’s why the biggest cause of the increasing Privilege Fee is the decreasing enrollment — which makes us all have to share more of that fee.”

Based on 2018 enrollment statistics, enrollment on the Manhattan campus has decreased for five consecutive fall semesters and six consecutive spring semesters.

Penny also acknowledged that part of the fee’s increase comes from large increases in budget allocation to Student Health Services and initiatives, as well as Counseling Services.

Student Health Services’ $5.6 million share of the total $16.2 million raised by the Privilege Fee Committee will increase by 1.5 percent through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year to fund expansion of services at Lafene Health Center. In that same timeframe, Counseling Services’ share, which currently stands at $765,391 dollars, will increase by 5 percent.

Natalie Jabben, junior in political science and returning member on the committee, said the committee philosophy is to treat students’ money with the greatest amount of care as possible.

“There is a balance between providing what we on the committee consider to be worthwhile services and resources for students, and also keeping the fee as low as possible,” Jabben said.

Jabben said that if the overall budget allocation for the Privilege Fee were to decrease, there is no guarantee that the amount each student pays would also decrease.

With the cost of attending K-State being a priority for the executive branch of SGA this academic year, Penny and Hannah Heatherman, speaker of the student senate and senior in finance, are preparing for future enrollment drops and raises in the Privilege Fee per student for future years.

They may dip into reserve allocations for the Peters Recreation Complex and K-State Student Union. These allocations are separate from the allocations for operations and services those entities provide.

“If we can cut that reserve allocation in half — or maybe even to zero if they have a surplus from those allocations and slowly replace those funds over time — we may be able to lower the cost each student pays if enrollment continues to drop,” Heatherman said.

The committee will resume next Monday, at 6 p.m., to review the budget allocation for Wildcat Watch.