Proposal Favors Single Student Document Fee

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Assistant University News Editor Allie Bidwell speaks with Lead Academics and Administration Reporter Katie Nelson about the consolidation of the miscellaneous student fees.

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Following weeks of discussion, the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees voted Tuesday to recommend a fee to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau that would allow the campus to charge new undergraduate and graduate students a one-time payment for retrieving campus documents.

The proposed "tiered" fee, which would be implemented in fall 2011, would consolidate 19 different fees that current students and alumni pay to obtain an unlimited supply of 10 documents, such as transcripts and letters of good standing, and instead require different payment amounts from new undergraduate and graduate students.

"This is just a break-even proposition," said Anne De Luca, UC Berkeley university registrar. "We want to be able to continue to provide service, but not burden students each time they walk into our office to purchase documents."

Students are currently charged $275 from 19 different miscellaneous fees. According to the Office of the Registrar's Miscellaneous Student Fee Proposal Form, the individual fees would likely need to be increased at regular intervals in order to keep up with increasing costs. If the new fee is approved and passed by Birgeneau, incoming undergraduate freshmen and graduate-level students would save anywhere from $250 to $110, depending on their level of education.

An original proposal for the fee planned to offer a flat rate of $150 to both incoming undergraduate freshmen and graduate-level students.

However, based on some of the concerns that the advisory committee had with the implementation process, the Office of the Registrar put together the current proposal that will be recommended to Birgeneau.

De Luca said in an e-mail that undergraduates would be charged a one-time fee of $165, doctoral students a one-time fee of $100, master's level students a one-time fee of $80 and law school students a one-time fee of $25.

Students would not only be able to receive an unlimited supply of transcripts, but they would also have an easier time obtaining other commonly requested documents, such as letters of good standing, according to De Luca.

"We are not interested in making money from students - we just want to provide services to students at even costs," she said. "We tried to be really creative in how we could meet the needs of students. You pay once and you are done."

In addition to saving future students money, if the fee is implemented, current students and alumni would not have to pay anything to retrieve documents.

However, some students sitting on the chancellor's advisory committee said they are concerned about the approval process and possible passage of the student fee.

Danielle Love, the Graduate Assembly campus affairs vice president and committee member, said there was no concrete data provided by the Office of the Registrar when it proposed the fee to the committee.

"We haven't been shown actual data, just their compilation of facts about the data," she said. "We wanted the raw data that they use to make all calculations for the fees. We asked for that information about two weeks ago. We never got it."

Graduate Assembly Internal Coordinator and former advisory committee member Philippe Marchand said in an e-mail that the fee, even if it is only paid once, needs to be approved by a referendum of all students and ratified by the UC Board of Regents because it would be a required payment to the campus.

However, per campus rule, miscellaneous fees - which the Office of the Registrar says the proposed fee falls under - only need to be approved by the chancellor.

"Presenting it as a miscellaneous fee then appears to be an attempt to get around the referendum process," Marchand said in the e-mail. "A fee that every student has to pay to attend Cal, even if they don't all pay it every semester, cannot be seen as anything else than compulsory."


Katie Nelson is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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