Instructional material fees are intended to alleviate a student’s expenses, but students argue its effectiveness.
Material fees are intended to recover the cost of material used in class, according to Associate Vice President of the Administrative Services Larry Kraus.
“They are for materials consumed or used in class that have lasting value, that students take home with them such as paper,” Kraus explained, “so if you have something that you need for a class that you actually walk out the door with and has a continuing value.”
The fees have been around for over 20 years, according to Kraus.
“The material fee changes. It’s different for every class,” Kraus said. “It’s actually posted on the schedule.”
A non-payment could result into a hold being placed on your record, Kraus reported.
Greg Gilbertson, Chair of the Department of Art and Architecture, claims to have never had any students complain about the fee.
“They’re pretty good about paying the fee,” Gilbertson stated.
“They expect that if a class is going to supply some of the materials we’re going to use. They understand that the college doesn’t have the money to just front them the materials,” he claimed.
Gilbertson does not drop students who haven’t paid the material fee mid-semester.
“A lot of them will pay the first week,” he justified. “Some might need like a second or even a third week if they need to wait for a paycheck.”
“There are some students who, maybe, are adding the class and they want to make sure they’re officially added before they pay the fee,” he continued. “That’s certainly reasonable.”
Students can pay their fees at various locations.
“You pay at the Business Office,” Kraus affirmed. “You can even pay at the Bookstore or CopyTech.”
Wherever a student chooses to pay, the money goes into an account that allows instructors to buy the material according to both Kraus and Gilbertson.
Instructional material fees have to meet certain requirements.
“We can’t just buy things [students] never use,” Kraus explained. “We have to be able to see it and touch it.”
“It’s for material-oriented sort of class,” Gilbertson confirmed.
“We directly order from a corporation that specializes in some of these materials,” he added. “Those things are purchased in bulks and we get a discount.”
Gilbertson attests the fees are a way to save a student money.
“When they go out to buy something they need to use, they’re going to pay much more money in an art store,” he explained.
On top of the financial savings, Gilbertson believes the payment of material fees is more convenient for students.
“For some students, it’s going to be difficult to get a certain kind of clay body, for example, because you just can’t find it at a local convenience store,” he elaborated.
Product Development major, Kevin Wong, 21, is enrolled in a photography class.
According to the schedule, this means he is asked to pay a $25 material fee.
Wong understands this fee exclusively covers the use of ink when he uses the printer in class.
“It’s reasonable. I mean, it could be cheaper,” Wong said.
By Oct. 25, Wong claims to have only printed one paper since the semester started.
“It’d be nice if we were printing more,” he explained.
Wong asserts he could have saved money if he had printed it on his own time.
“We have to pay for the paper too, actually,” Wong continued. “It’s about $18. We had to go to a camera store to buy the paper.”
“It should probably be cheaper because it is kind of a lot of money when you think about it,” Wong said.
There are solutions to situations like Wong’s , in which the mathematics behind the fee seem problematic and unjustified.
Kraus attests the material fee is disputable if there is a reasonable explanation.
“The intention here is to recover the cost of paper and the ink cartridges, which are expensive,” Kraus said. “If you feel like that’s not correct, you would have to talk to your instructor.”
“I think it’s a pretty good system,” Gilbertson concluded.