The Sun Star fee project

Heather Bryant/ Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
March 6, 2012

The semester is winding down quickly. After spring break there are six more issues of The Sun Star before the end of the semester.

There won’t be print issues on March 14 or 21 because of spring break. But we still have a lot planned before the semester is over. We are getting ready to release additional Salary Database stories. We’re also working on a fee project.

Last semester, we started working toward creating an independent newspaper with better funding. We learned that students don’t have a lot of information about fees in general. There is little information available about how much is collected and how it’s used.

In November, The Sun Star started an investigation to find out exactly where the money goes. Our jobs is to give our readers the best and fullest grasp of the facts. We will provide you with the information you need to decide if your money is being spent in the best way. We will publish an overview story and a separate story for each mandatory fee that students have to pay. We will do our best to provide original documents and infographics that break down the budgets and spending.

Regents’ policy requires that each of the main campuses “maintain a web site that identifies all student fees and discloses for each the amount of the fee, its purpose, the basis for calculation or assessment, and an explanation of the use of the proceeds.”

However, there at least three different pages within www.uaf.edu. Each lists vague descriptions that don’t elaborate what the money is spent on. Some of the pages also have varying amounts of information for each fee.

For example, the athletics fee is described as covering “admission to all home athletic competitions.” That is not the actual use of the fee money. When the fee was created in 2008, it helped balance the athletics department’s budget because it was facing a nearly $500,000 deficit. However, that information isn’t listed in any fee description. Other fees that students pay have similarly ambiguous descriptions.

There is no regularly released report that accounts for how fee money is spent.

Students are entitled to this information.

We are still working on this project and we need student participation. If you have questions or concerns that you think we should look into, please contact us. Email your questions to editor@uafsunstar.com.

We are also doing a survey to gauge how well-informed students are about fees. Please help us out by completing the short survey. You can find links to it on our website and on our Facebook page.

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