The Main Point: Off-campus PFW courses hit students with unreasonable extra fees
The fee for off-campus PFWs should cover the entire price of the classes, not burden students with extra costs at the beginning of the semester.
Bowling class is an obvious example of this issue. A popular PFW option, the class meets at Sunset Bowling Lanes on Highway 123 twice a week. Students enrolled in the course pay for one credit hour at a current rate of $217 plus a $30 Off-Campus Class fee. Additionally, students pay $75 directly to Sunset Lanes and $35 for the mandatory online textbook, not to mention the cost of the fuel they use to get to the venue.
The university’s facilities are maintained with an additional mandatory $94 Recreational Sports Fee. Students receiving $30 Off-Campus Class charges specifically for not using Texas State’s facilities is nearly as ridiculous as the idea of bowling requiring a textbook.
However, bowling is not the only off-campus PFW course with these financial issues. Pocket billiards, beginning golf and wakeboarding, among others, require similarly excessive fees and transportation to get to the classes.
Off-campus facilities do require additional money to operate, especially when they are offered by private businesses that are left unavailable to regular, paying customers during class times.
However, it is unreasonable to require students to pay $50 or more in cash within the first weeks of the semester when they already provided payment specifically for off-campus course expenses.
The beginning of the semester brings enough sudden expenses in textbooks and supplies without the university tacking on fees for the use of facilities they do not own or maintain.
According to its website, Student Business Services’ official explanation for the Off-Campus Class fee is, “All students enrolled in classes held at off-campus locations are required to pay $30 per hour that will help defray the cost of services provided at these locations.” If students have already paid a fee that supposedly relieves the cost of their PFW courses, it is unfair to demand more money once the class actually starts.
A single credit hour for an off-campus PFW course ends up costing approximately 64 percent more than a standard credit hour, not including transportation costs. Furthermore, the extra cost is split into multiple fees, some required to be paid directly in cash. This demand may come at a time when other classes more relevant to students’ degrees require expensive textbooks and supplies.
These fees, if they are completely necessary to reserve space in businesses around San Marcos, could be easily combined into one payment as a part of the tuition covered by financial aid or any other student payment plan.
When students register for a PFW course, there is no notification within the Banner registration page of the $30 fee or the additional payment required. After being billed a fee for “defraying” costs, these students are told on the first day of class that they have about a week to come up with anywhere from $50-200 or they will be dropped. This system takes unfair advantage of students who may not have had a problem paying the fee if they had been properly notified.
Again, off-campus venues do require additional money, and the fee is generally quite low when compared to the cost of using the same facilities twice a week as a customer rather than a student. However, students should not be charged two different fees for the same service.
The two fees should be combined as part of the overall tuition payment for the class. Banner’s registration page should then be updated to alert students that certain classes will add a noticeable but comparatively small bump to their tuition. Although an extra hundred dollars may be more manageable to fit into a tuition payment, it can be a sizeable inconvenience when demanded in cash after other classes have already been paid for.