Student Fees and Where They Go

If you’re a student, or the parent of a student, then you know the feeling all too well. You go to open up this semester’s tuition bill and see that the price of college has gone up – again.

But have you ever wondered what you’re really paying for? Where are your thousands of tuition dollars going? And what are all of those extra “student fees” for anyway?

If you’ve been searching for some sort of explanation, look no further. Read on as we break down the most common college fees and where they go.


With tuition rates that keep rising, it’s easy to assume that colleges just need that money to employ a better and larger staff. But in reality, tuition pays for more than just your professors. Your tuition dollars also work to fund employee benefit programs, university research and the many scholarships that colleges offer.

Class Materials

Colleges also charge a materials fee to maintain and upgrade electronic equipment in lecture halls and purchase class-specific materials, like lab supplies, for students. Keep in mind that you’ll then have to pay for your own textbooks and school supplies on top of this hefty fee.

Orientation and Commencement

From the second you step foot on campus to the second you leave, colleges find a way to charge you. Not only will you see a fee for your freshman orientation, but also for your cap, gown and graduation ceremony four years down the road.


The library is a college student’s best friend. But because of that, colleges have to charge a fee in order to pay those bills. This money works to keep the library employees paid, computers running and shelves stocked with books.

Student Government, Student Publications and Student Legal Services

One major cut of your student fees goes to things that can help make your life as a student a little bit easier. Student services like your school government, newspaper and complimentary legal help are often covered by student fees. Don’t forget about these great resources!

Health Services, Recreation and University Buildings

Resources like the health clinics and gyms on campus are also paid for by student fees. Remember that you’re funding places like these the next time you get sick or want to fight off the “freshman 15.”

Additionally, you probably want your university union and class buildings to be kept as clean and modern as possible. That’s why you have to pay a general building fee. To combat the cost, use those spaces around campus! Instead of staying in your dorm, why not visit your favorite lecture hall to study or try out the union to tackle your next group project?

In the end, student fees can really stack up. But because most of these fees are unavoidable anyway, you might as well make the most of what you’re paying for and soak up every element of the college experience.

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