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Volume 7, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

Student fee hitting its head on $150 ceiling

If the Student Service Fee is not increased next fiscal year, there may be less money to go around to student groups like the Student Government Association, the Student Program Board, this newspaper and dozens of other valuable organizations.

The fee reached the $150 cap last year, at the recommendation of the Student Fees Advisory Committee. Even then, the committee allocated $300,000 more than it actually had. 

So, sometime between now and February, it needs to be discussed and decided whether the fee should be increased, meaning raising the cap or doing away with it, or to keep the cap in place, saving students a few bucks but tightening budgets in some organizations.

SFAC usually has the luxury of deciding that certain units should get more money; the opposite could be true if the cap remains in place for next year's deliberations.

The simple solution isn't without a drawback.

The way the statute is written, if the cap is broken, the University may gain the ability to raise the fee without consulting a committee to as much as $250. Of course, it would be unwise to do so, but it would not be illegal. The likely outcome in that scenario is that UH would hold fee hearings, like it does for every other fee, which all students will be invited to attend. In that case, no one will show up; it's no secret that UH students have an apathetic streak. There's one guarantee: fees will go up. Just look at how universities responded to tuition deregulation.

There are two ways the fee can go beyond the $150 cap: approval by the SGA Senate or a vote by the student body. 

Ultimately, we think it should go to a Senate vote -- not ignored out of fear of administrative control. At best, the SGA should find a way to keep as much power in the hands of students. 

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