Proposed increase in UB student fees raises concern

Student fees to increase over the next five years


UB students may have to pay an additional $100 each year for the Academic Excellence and Success fee.

But many students have expressed their concerns, mainly because they don’t know what the fee entails or where their money is going.

Provost Charles Zukoski and Vice President Scott Weber proposed an increase in the Academic Excellence and Success fee for undergraduate and graduate students. The current fee is $187.50 and the proposed fee is $287.50 per student for the 2017-18 year. The fee will go up $100 for each following school year until 2022. Zukoski and Weber sent an email to students on Feb. 10 introducing the increase in broad-based fees.

“The proposed increase would support state-mandated increases in salaries, minimum wage, fringe benefits, costs as a result of inflationary increases, increased technology and library costs and services, continued support for the bus contract, and central academic investments,” according to the Feb. 10 email.

Students may also have to pay an estimated 4 percent increase for the following fees: athletics, campus life, college, recreation (undergraduates), student health, technology, transcript (full-time students) and transportation.

Students have two weeks to complete a survey offering feedback on the proposed fees. The survey can be accessed on MyUB and closes Feb. 24. A summary report will be available March 3.

Students don’t feel two weeks is enough time to respond to the fees.

UB spokesperson John Della Contrada said in an email that many students at the fee allocation meeting on Feb. 16 were asking for more details.

“The university is preparing more information and detail about the specific uses of the Academic Excellence Fee,” Della Contrada said. “This information will be communicated to students very soon, for their feedback and will be shared with The Spectrum as well.”

The Spectrum reached out to Zukoski, but he was not available to comment in time for print.

Representatives from Student Association (SA) and Graduate Student Association (GSA) who sat in on the Feb. 16 meeting expressed their concerns.

SA Treasurer Dan Emmons said he didn’t have an issue with most of the fees except the Academic Excellence and Success fee, which he feels is “arbitrary.” He doesn’t feel the fee is transparent enough and said students shouldn’t have to worry where their money is going. He said he wonders why a faculty fee is included within this fee instead of in tuition.

“I think there should be a little bit of backlash on the fee because every other fee I can look at and I know exactly where it’s going, like the athletics or student activity fee... but academic excellence, I don’t know what that means,” Emmons said. “That can mean a lot of things. It can mean anything pretty much.”

SA President Matt Rivera also said he doesn’t know what the Academic Excellence and Success fee includes.

When we sat in on these meetings we were asking them really what the concrete reason for the increase would be and we weren’t getting a fair response,” Rivera said.

Tanja Aho, GSA president, feels the increase of student fees is “problematic” for graduate students.

For many students, this $100 annual increase is the difference between buying books for a class or two weeks of groceries, she said.

“We do understand there are costs that do go up on an annual basis and that sometimes can’t be helped but the really astronomical increase, the very radical $100 extra per year for the Academic Excellence and Success Fee, for graduate students especially we cannot support,” Aho said.

Aho spoke with the fee stewards and said no one was able to give a “concrete answer” where the money will go.

Aho also feels advertisement of the fees can be improved.

“I am a firm believer in knowing where my tuition dollars and fees are going and honestly I think this is a way for the university to be charging us extra tuition without having it covered as tuition,” said Carly Gottorff, a senior political science major and president of Sub-Board I, said.

Zach Shapiro, a senior business major, says there are some fees he understands, such as parking and technology, but he thinks the Academic Excellence and Success fee sounds like an extra tuition fee.

Shapiro said $100 dollars don’t sound like a lot until it accumulates every year. He’s concerned about the added benefits of this fee and for future students.

“One of our major points of critique is that UB promises transparency and honesty and integrity in this process, but the actual information that is provided is both incomplete and extremely vague in its formulation,” Aho said.

*Editor's note: The original article said the current Academic Excellence and Success fee is $180.50.

Hannah Stein is the co-senior news editor and can be reached at