The Idaho State Board of Education is considering a new policy that would allow schools to merge separate student fees for items such as activities and technology into one “consolidated mandatory fee.”

While some spoke in favor of this policy, arguing that it allowed higher education institutions to be more transparent about the full cost of securing an education, others raised concerns about the amount of leeway this setup would give colleges and universities to re-allocate fees.

The board approved the first reading of the proposed policy last Thursday, February 18.

Transparency and Allocation of Resources

Dave Hill, a member of the board, pointed out that schools would need this flexibility to adjust funding as needed, saying that separate student fees was “not good business practice.” 

“We want to allow as much flexibility as reasonable for the institutions to move those monies to where they’re needed, as opposed to putting them in a lot of small little pots and monitoring each pot,” he explained.

Hill added that this new format would be more comprehensible for students, particularly those who have difficulty understanding how much the fees will cost beforehand.

President of Idaho State University, Kevin Satterlee, believes that this policy would make fees more transparent.

“It’s so much more transparent to students to say, ‘here is the cost,’ rather than a big list of things that makes students wonder, ‘why am I paying this, why am I paying that?’ and even leads to this legislative problem of students want to opt out of everything. The cost of delivering our entire product is what we want to be transparent about,” he stated.

Another board member, Emma Atchley, pointed out that a consolidated fee could potentially obscure what students actually pay for or give colleges the opportunity to spend their money in a way that students disagree with.

“I would argue not having some specificity would lead to, I don’t know, maybe a tendency to raise fees without adequate justification. I would be worried about that,” Atchley said.