Overview of the Council on Student Fees

The Council on Student Fees (CSF) is the official student advisory voice on system wide matters regarding the use of Registration Fees and on the provision of Student Services. The Council is made up of the SFAC or RFAC Chair from each of the ten UC campuses (see explanation of terms below). CSF acts as a forum to develop and endorse policy positions on student fee issues of collective importance to all UC campuses. This body also acts as a clearinghouse of information on the development and resolution of student fee related issues. The Council advocates for the students of the University of California and for the welfare of the UC services these students use.

Each campus has a Student Fee Advisory Committee (SFAC) or a Registration Fee Advisory Committee (RFAC). This group of students is charged with reviewing student services (any service on campus that is not academic, i.e., Women's Center, Sports Facilities, Health Center, Off Campus Housing, etc) and making yearly recommendations to the Chancellor regarding their funding. All non-academic services are funded by the "Registration Fee" which every student pays each quarter. The Registration Fee adds up to a great deal of money, anywhere between $7 million at a small campus to $25 million at a large campus, which is why it is so important for students to advise as to how this money is spent to best serve students at large. Usually campuses' SFAC or RFAC meet weekly for two hours throughout the year to research and decide how the money can be allocated for the greatest benefit to all students.

The Council on Student Fees is the statewide council attended by each of the campuses' SFAC and RFAC Chair, or their proxy. Quarterly meetings are held to review fee issues on the statewide level and to share information about fee issues on our campuses. Our greatest interest is to protect the Registration Fee so that students always have input regarding its use as well as insuring the health of the Student Services on each campus. Members often exchange ideas for creative budgeting and campus financial problem solving. We work with the Office of the President, the UC Student Association, the Regents, and the State Legislature to advocate for students and the services they use.

The Council on Student Fees is staffed part time by an employee of the UC Student Association, the CSF Director.

History of the Registration Fee and the Council on Student Fees

Note: The Regents vote on all final budget and policy proposals for the UC system.

1920: Regents voted to implement an “Incidental Fee” of $25 for all UC Berkeley students because the State could not continue to fully fund the University. Fee was generally meant to “cover the costs of services furnished by the University in addition to instruction and cannot therefore be properly regarded as tuition.”

1939: Increased to $27.50 to cover extra medical expenses for students.

1940: Increased from $13.50 to $20.00 at Davis. First study on Incidental Fee found it to be an important source of income to the UC system. They also found it very difficult to track exactly what the fee paid for, although generally the University claimed it paid for libraries, sport facilities and medical services.

1942: Proposal to increase the fee again found it difficult to determine what was being paid for by the fee. It was suspected that much of the money went into general funds and produces a large surplus.

1947: Regents decided to eliminate all laboratory fees and increase the incidental fee to $35 at UC Berkeley.

1953: Incidental Fee increased to $42, to be “cost covering” and made uniform at all campuses.

1954-1957: The President made more effort to track expenditure of the fee and concluded that the University, “steadfastly held to the policy of charging no resident tuition but of charging a fee to cover expenses other than the cost of instruction.”

1955: For the first time the fee was officially defined: “An incidental fee is charged for miscellaneous supplementary services not immediately or directly a part of the basic educational program. Included in these services are such items as Student Health Services, organized counseling services, recreational services, diploma costs, and housing services as available and to the extent provided on any one campus of the University.”

1957: Fee increased to $50.

1958: Fee increased to $60.

1962: Administration realized that while UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley couldn’t cover expenses with the existing fee, UC Los Angeles charged a $26 excess over what the campus needed. They created an institution to hold the surplus and raised the fee to $75. The Master Plan states that, “each institution collect and identify student fees with the services such fees are designed to cover.” New services instated: cultural programs, intercollegiate athletics, recreational use of sport facilities as well as devoting the surplus to future capitol outlaw for new student facilities.

1963: Fee increased to $63.

1968: Committee appointed to find alternate funding sources for UC. The committee recommended renaming the incidental fee the “Registration Fee,” and allocating these funds to financial aid and Student Services. The UC President was appointed to determine and approve future Registration Fee increases. Some concern was also raised about how increasing fees might prevent low income students from attending UC.

1970: A report was compiled on mandatory student fees. Questionnaires were sent to each UC in order to monitor the expenditures of Registration Fees. The report found the fees were being spent appropriately.

1972: President got approval from the Regents to limit Registration Fee spending solely to Student Services. Financial Aid costs are transferred to the Education Fee and other Student Services are transferred to Registration Fee expenditures. Students were very involved in this decision

1974: First meeting of the Registration Fee Advisory Committee (RFAC) Chairs, where they drafted a collective position of UC students for addressing the Registration Fee deficit. They advocated for the removal of academically related units, such as the Registrar, Admissions, financial aid administration, student affairs administration, Equal Opportunity Programs, and academic counseling, from the Registration Fee burden. These units had been transferred to the Registration Fee when the Reagan Administration refused to support these services. UC President supported the student recommendations.

1976: Registration Fee increased to $116. Definition reaffirmed, “to be used for services, other than financial aid, which benefit the student and which are complementary to but not part of the instructional program.” The Education Fee was defined as “exclusively for support of student financial aid and related programs.” UC was criticized by the Governor for not tracking fees well enough to determine how much money is needed to cover costs. President stated that he “could accept the concept that students should have total jurisdiction over the use of the Registration Fees….” RFAC’s were taken very seriously by campus administration. Student Body Presidents Council recommended that the UC President be involved with the RFACs. Differential fees allowed within a range for the next three years.

The State Council of the Registration Fee Advisory Committees officially formed. The original council focused on the appropriate use of student fees and responding to the off-loading of programs from the state to fee-funding.

1979: Council renamed the State Council on Registration Fees and published “Problems and Prospects for the Use and Development of the University Registration Fee into the 1980s.”

1981: Education Fee policy modified to “include support for those centrally funded student services programs which lost State General Fund support as a result of legislative action on the 1981-82 budget.”

Reductions in Stat funding for the UC lead to dramatic fee increases.

1982: “Problems and Prospects Revisited: Reanalysis and Policy Recommendations” is written by the newly named Systemwide Student Fee Advisory Committee, as an addition to their earlier “Problems and Prospects.”

1983: Maximum fee level set at $178. Requests for differential fee increased submitted by each Chancellor to the UC President. Current definition state “University Registration Fee income continue to be used for services which benefit the student and which are complementary to, but not part of instruction and research programs, including activities such as intercollegiate athletics, arts and lectures, recreational programs, student services (including health services), and capital improvements which provide extracurricular benefits for students.”

1984: The Council lay dormant until 1982 and then reconvened as the UC Council on Student Fees. This reflected the move at many campuses to monitor all student fees, not just the Registration Fee.

Students get a $70 fee reduction to make up for the fee increases in the two previous years.

1985: Senate Bill 195, Long Term Fee Policy, approved. This provided for gradual and moderate fee increases and established guidelines for fee increase calculations, financial aid, and consultation with students. Fees frozen at 1984 level.

1986: Staff person funded for CSF. Main topics of interest were the appropriate use of the Registration Fee, off-loading units onto the Registration Fee, the monitoring of other student fees by the campus committees, and fee funded buildings. Wrote, with UCSA, “Fee-Funded Facilities and Referenda Policy Proposal.”

1987-1990: Registration and Education Fee increased each year within limits of the Long Term Fee Policy, 10%, 4%, and 3% respectively.

1991-1992: Fees for 1991-1992 set to increase 40% due to extreme State budget shortfall, with the Education Fee receiving most of the increase. Long Term Fee Policy is suspended. The Sacramento Bee reported, “In the early 1990s, UC made $400 million in budget cuts, raised student fees and put off salary increases to cope with the recessions. The system’s share of the State budget has shrunk from nearly 7% in the 1970s to about 4.2% today, according to UC figures” (10/17/97). Shortfall in the State funding were made up half through budget cuts, a quarter through not providing employees cost-of-living adjustments, and other quarter through raising student fees.

1992-1994: Student fees raised 24% in 1992-93 and 22% in 1993-94. UC able to hold fee increase to 10% in 1994-95 because the State authorized the use of $25 million in debt financing for deferred maintenance which released general funds that substituted for fee income.

Student Fee policy and Financial Aid Policy adopted by the Regents, which takes into consideration all of the costs to attend the University (living expenses, etc). Education Fee definition is changed so that the fee can pay for all costs of the UC (previously limited to financial aid, admissions, registration, administration, libraries, etc). For the first time since the UC’s inception, tuition is charged to students for their education. UC President stated he was soliciting student views on the level of Education Fees.

New Registration Fee is defined by the University of California Student Fee Policy (1994) accordingly: “Income generated by the Registration Fee may be used to support services which benefit the student and which are complementary to, but are not limited to, operating and capital expenses for services related to the physical and psychological health and well-being of students; social and cultural activities and programs; services related to campus life ad campus community; and educational and career support. These programs create a supportive learning environment and provide general student enrichment.” This document also stated that the Chancellors “annually shall solicit student views on the level of the campus Registration Fee, for their respective campuses, for the next academic year through the campus Registration Fee Advisory Committees, consistent with the range established by the board.

According to The Sacramento Bee, “Between 1990 and 1995 student fees at UC increased 134%. Fees at state universities went up 108% and at community colleges, 290%.”

1994: All professional students in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, law, business/management, pharmacy, optometry, nursing, and theater/film/television (at the LA campus only) are required to pay a professional student fee, as approved by the Regents in January. UC’s goal is to make the cost of a professional degree comparable to other institutions, which currently charge more.

1995-1997: 10% increase proposed by Regents each year. The State bought out these increases for three years and added a 4% inflation increase under the four-year compact. Registration Fee supported units received almost no increases, although COLAs, merit increases, as well as cost increases due to inflation are funded by the General Funds.

UC tired to work out a deal with the State to guarantee a percentage of the State’s budget (approximately 4%). In return the Regents promise not to increase fees more than 10% a year. Bills 1415 and 1318 are proposed in Legislature to create some kind of fee decrease and long term fee policy for the UCs and State Colleges. Personal Income Index discussed as a tool to gauge how much more people can pay for an education each year.

1997: Registration Fees and General Funds become mixed in the units, which causes some concern for CSF and the Council of Vice Chancellors. CSF supports the Vice Chancellors of Student Affairs’ proposal to have a “fee swap” in order to realign the funds. 1318 passes and is signed by the Governor and approved by the Regents, so undergraduate students will have a 5% fee decrease in 1998-99 and a fee freeze in 1999-2000, while professional and graduate students will have a fee freeze for two years. 1415 is vetoed and as of this date there is no long-term fee policy for the UC.

State again buys out 10% fee increase and provides 4% inflation increase.

1998: As of June 1998, the State budget has allocated a 9% increase for the UC system. This will cover the roll back of student fees, plus necessary yearly increases and extra for technology purchases among other things. The Office of the President (OP) is pleased with the budget but still resists the idea of lowering student fees. OP feels the costs of a UC education is comparable with the rest of the nation and that they are still trying to make up for the drastic cuts made in the early 1990s.

In September, fees for undergraduates were decreased 5% for the first time since 1985. The State had approved a 5% fee rollback, but in order for this to occur, Governor Davis would have to decide to fund the rollback in his January Governor’s Budget. SB 19896 would also eliminate the freeze on professional school fees.

1999: In the spring of 1999, CSF worked to collect information about all of the Campus Based Fees at all of the UC campuses. These had been increasing every year for all of the UC campuses. Meanwhile the State and OP had been claiming that there were “no new fee increases” since the systemwide Education and Registration Fees had not been increased. In actuality, fees had increased for every student on the campus level.

State again buys out necessary increases for the UC in exchange for the promise that student fees will not be increased. Fees for resident undergraduates and graduate students decreased 5% because of the previous year’s State legislation.

OP expressed interest in a fee swap of $100 a year for two years. This would result in $15 million in new money for student services each year.

2000: After working for a year to advocate for increased funding for student services, OP still dies not want to pursue any kind of increase. Some Regents show support for student services and CSF, as well as UCSA, plan to continue advocating for the fee swap.

The Southworth case was concluded in the Federal Courts.

2001-2003: CSF builds organizational infrastructure and collaborates with UCSA to lobby around the State budget.