Originally created 12/10/97

Variables cause fee variety



ATLANTA -- Several variables, from the size of football teams to local housing markets, help explain why student fees at Georgia's 34 public colleges and universities differ, according to a study released Tuesday to the University System Board of Regents.

Regents commissioned the study by Coopers & Lybrand Consulting last spring after students complained about the yearly student fee increases for things such as sports, parking and health services.

Such fees add hundreds of dollars annually to each student's college bill.

A state audit report also raised questions about the fees. It said some schools were making money off fee programs while others were in the red. And it argued there was little justification given for many of the annual fee increases.

The Coopers and Lybrand study said that fees charged at the various schools can differ dramatically. For example, health fees are $80 per quarter at the University of Georgia but only $10 at Georgia State University.

Several factors affect the fees, Coopers and Lybrand officials said.

In the case of athletics fees, determining factors include the existence of a football team, the number of sports on campus, the number of participants, scholarships awarded, school enrollment and the amount of revenue raised at sporting events.

Regent Ken Cannestra, chairman of the board's committee on finance and business, said the study showed there are logical reasons for disparities in the fee system.

"The findings suggest that there is really no need for any fundamental change," Mr. Cannestra said. "Some fine-tuning may be necessary."

Associate Vice Chancellor William Bowes told the board that schools will be required to provide business plans for auxiliary programs funded by fees and expected to give a more thorough accounting of the reasons for fee increases when they are presented in the future.

The regents generally approve tuition and fee increases each April, the month after the General Assembly leaves town after approving the state budget.