CP editorial: New enhancement fee just one more expense for students

To state the obvious, college is expensive. Unfortunately, college is about to become more expensive for University of Missouri students. In the recent Missouri Students Association election, voters passed a new student fee known as the “Enhance Mizzou” fee. The fee passed with 79 percent of those voting approving, but the voter turnout was only 9,420 of the more than 33,000 currently enrolled MU students, recorded by the university.

According to the fee’s campaign, it is a fee brought by the students for the students, to enhance the Mizzou experience. The fee applies to all undergraduate, graduate, and professional students that take classes on campus. However, students that take classes through Mizzou Online will not be charged.

The fee adds $2.91 to every credit hour a student takes. With the average class being three credit hours, the total fee amount would be $8.37 per class. A student must take a minimum of 12 credit hours to be a full time student per semester, therefore adding $34.92 to a full time student’s semester costs.

If a student takes 12 credit hours per semester for four years, they will be paying an additional $279.36 due to the Enhance Mizzou fee. The student could have used the money to purchases books, gas, a plane ticket home, rent, or food.

According to Student Services the fee will be distributed as follows:

  • $5 to technology: Expand Wi-Fi and expand technology in study and learning spaces
  • $8 to counseling center: Hire three new counselors, fund staff retention and training and expand outreach efforts.
  • $12 to libraries: Keep Ellis Library open 24 hours a day, five days a week, extend specialized library hours to meet student demand, fund collections/resources and improve student learning spaces.
  • $5 to student unions: Add more wireless printers and maintain study space technology, waive equipment fees for meeting room reservations, maintain group study spaces and heavily-used student seating areas and maintain quality of MU Student Center and Memorial Union facilities.
  • $2.50 to leadership and service programs: Support experiences that help students develop career-ready skills, provide leadership training for undergraduate and graduate/professional students, provide new funding for technical services to enhance student organization events, provide need-based scholarships for Mizzou Alternative Breaks participants, provide support for community service-related programs such as Caring for Columbia and Step Forward Day, and maintain support for environmental and sustainability program outreach and awareness.
  • $2.50 to campus activities: Continue to provide free and low-cost programs and events such as speakers, Safe Mizzou, cultural/international events, alcohol-free programs and events that help connect students to campus, such as Mizzou After Dark, concerts, movies and fall orientation events.

I am left with many concerns about how the money collected from the fee will be distributed across the university. My first concern is the language used in the descriptions. For instance, “expand technology in study and learning spaces.” If students are paying an additional fee, we should have the right to know what new technology will be available and exactly where it will be accessible.

As a student taking on the responsibility of paying for college, every single dollar matters. If I will be paying to enhance Mizzou, I would like to know the specific details regarding where the fee will be spent. I would appreciate knowing when the funds will begin to be distributed, what is being bought and enhanced and how it will be beneficial to me.

Funds going to the Counseling Center, 24-hour access to the library, waiving equipment fees for meeting room reservations at student unions, MAB trips and free movie screenings are all amenities that I do not use as a student. I believe that these things should be paid for by the students that use them. I feel strongly that I should not pay for a fellow student to see a movie for free or take a trip that I myself do not attend.

Lastly, this fee appears to intersect with the current Student Activity fee, which is a mandatory fee for every student. According to the Cashiers Office, students pay $14.13 per credit hour with a semester maximum amount totaling $84.78 with the current fee. Similarly, it provides funding for student governments and organizations, facilities, development and counseling services, debt service and student services. In my opinion, it seems that the current Student Activity fee overlaps with things that will be given funding by the Enhance Mizzou.

I am left with more questions regarding the new fee than answers. I love being a tiger and fully support enhancing Mizzou, but I don’t believe the way to do this is through increasing student fees.

Olivia Hoelting

About the Author Olivia Hoelting

From a young age I can remember sitting with my dad at our family’s kitchen table looking over various agriculture magazines and newspapers. At the time, I was too young to understand most of the stories, but my dad would spend hours reading aloud to me. When I learned to read the stories myself, my dad helped me sound out some of the difficult terms myself. Little did I know, those small moments would be the first glance into my future career that I am now working towards. I am currently a junior studying science and agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I have an emphasis in agricultural marketing. I am also working towards a double minor in agricultural economics and political science.