Higher Fees For Higher Education In Alabama; Should Legislature Cap Rising Rates?

Sharon Rieger's picture
Monday, August 22, 2011

When students come back to campus at the University of Montevallo this week, they'll have more than just tuition to pay for.

First, there's an annual health and wellness fee of $150. Then there's a $120 student activity fee, a $40 administrative fee and a new $10 environmental fee that will go to pay for future green projects. If that's overwhelming, you can set up a payment plan -- for another $40 fee.

At universities around the state, student fees are going up, often faster than the cost of tuition. At Montevallo, for example, mandatory fees more than doubled from $230 five years ago to $480 this year, and its required non-tuition charges are the lowest of Alabama's four-year public universities that collect universal fees. Some students, including those at Alabama A&M, the University of South Alabama and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, will pay more than $1,400 in fees on top of tuition this academic year. And half of the state's public four-year schools have seen fees at least double in the past five years, according to statistics from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

That's making college even harder to pay for than usual, said Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and professor of economics at Ohio University.

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