Where Does Your Money Go?
Features / September 2, 2016
Breaking down the various student fees you pay, and what they pay for
Understanding how your student fees are spent is a great way to help get the most out of your education. According to the Kwantlen Student Association Vice President Finance and Operations Rawan Ramini, “It’s [the students’] right to know where their money is going, because that will give them the opportunity to speak up and have an opinion. [The KSA] are just doing our best to use the money in the best interest of students.”
Student fees can be broken down into two main categories; KSA fees and tuition fees. Along with tuition are smaller mandatory fees associated with running the library, acquiring required course materials and technology.
Let’s look first at the actual portion of your fees going towards tuition and other mandatory student fees. Tuition fees, put simply, are the cost of providing the course to students. Both tuition and other mandatory fees are assessed on a per-credit basis, each varying in cost depending on the program or department.
To help put this into context, enrolling in ENGL 1100—a 3 credit course—would cost students $408.90 in tuition and $28.62 in other mandatory student fees.
The other major category student fees fall under is the Kwantlen Student Association, though not all the fees they gather go towards the KSA’s operation.
The Operation Fund covers the cost of everything required to run the KSA, including member services, KSA staff and executive wages, IT expenses, internet and office supplies. It basically covers the cost of what it takes to run any office or building. Each student is required to pay a flat rate of $9.00 per semester in addition to $3.00 per credit, with a maximum of $50.00 per semester.
For example, a student enrolled in three classes with three credits per class (which equals nine credits) would be looking at a $9.00 flat rate + (nine credits * $3.00) totalling $36.00 for the semester.
Students with 15 credits or more per semester would be looking at $54.00 each if it weren’t for the maximum contribution being capped at $50.00.
Another charge to students is the extended health and dental coverage. That is $80.00 for the health coverage and $110.00 for the dental. This may seem like a hefty sum, but rest assured this is not something students are expected to pay each and every semester. It is a once-per-year fee and students may opt out of this payment within the first 30 days of the semester if they are able to provide proof of other coverage. That means if your program starts in May you’ll be charged the health and dental coverage with your May tuition, and not again until the following May.
The MultiPass is an automatic student fee that provides all students with a U-PASS, plus a few other perks such as access to free bike lockers on campus, free car2go minutes and $5 monthly Steve Nash Fitness Club memberships. The cost for this is currently $49.50 per month, totalling $198.00 for the average four month semester. Considering TransLink charges $124 a month for a two-zone adult monthly compass card, students are receiving quite the deal here. Students are even eligible to opt out of this payment if they are able to meet a few very specific requirements.
Students will also find a Bursary Fund totalling $1.00 per semester among their fees. This fee was established in the Spring of 2014 and makes up the various awards and bursaries Kwantlen has to offer for all students. The KSA also takes 3 per cent of the income collected from each fee category, except the MultiPass and adds it to the bursaries available for students.
With the exception of the Student Union Building fees, a majority of the KSA fees range from $0.10 per credit to $0.65 per credit. In Fall 2009 many of these Student Association fees were implemented by referendum. Below is a list of these fees and the services they provide to students:
The SUB fees go towards any renovations the KSA sees fit across all four campuses. “Any major renovations we do come from this [category]” says Ramini, including KSA office space, lounges, student union buildings, as well as the current Birch building and GrassRoots Cafe renovations.
Also to be found on the long list of fees is the Public Interest Research Fund, which pays for the Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group. Every student is charged $0.80 per credit for this organization. KPIRG’s mandate is to “engage and represent the interests of KPU students in social and environmental justice” according to their website. Also according to their website, there are no 2016 events planned, and no past 2016 events accounted for. It is likely the funds go towards staff wages, and any events KPIRG puts on.
Technically speaking every student is a member of KPIRG once they have paid this automatic fee. However, one week after Kwantlen’s no withdrawal/fee refund date, for four days KPIRG offers refunds for students wishing to opt out and receive a full refund as long as they provide proof of payment for their fees.
The Canadian Federation of Students is another mandatory student fee. They receive $0.98 per credit with a maximum of $8.86 per semester. According to the CFS website, they offer “a number of programs and services in order to meet the unique needs of students and to help students save money.” Many of the services offered by the CFS, such as health and dental plans and student agendas, the KSA have found better and more moderately priced options for students to take advantage of.
Finally, we have the Student Publication Fee, which is $0.75 per credit and goes directly towards the Polytechnic Ink Publishing Society. PIPS is responsible for the publication of The Runner and Pulp Magazine, Kwantlen’s literature and visual arts magazine.
Since the KSA is the recipient of a number of these funds, that means on some level students actually have a say in how these funds are spent and allocated amongst different divisions. Many of the associations listed, like PIPS, START, ACTIVE KSA, Reboot, Social Justice and Peer Support Counselling all have positions, paid or volunteer, available for students to apply and be a part of, effectively having a say in how funds are spent.
“It’s a trust relationship. In order for [students] to trust us they need to know how we operate and what we do,” says Ramini.
And while certain aspects of student fees will likely never change or just continue to increase, like the cost per credit of each course enrolled in, understanding where your money goes is an important part in exercising your rights as a student.
CORRECTION: We made a mistake on our infographic. The Canadian Federation of students, KPIRG and Polytechnic Ink Publishing respectively receive $0.98, $0.80, $0.75 per CREDIT, not per Semester. We apologize for the error.