Where do your fees go?

You paid your tuition this summer — but do you know exactly where your chunk of change goes?

Not all students have an excess amount of cash to flash, and the cash they do have usually goes into the pockets of others — whether it's through bills, to a car, insurance, rent, tuition and more.

Here's a comprehensive breakdown of exactly where your money goes once you hand it over to the college, and it goes to more places then you think.

There are two categories of fees that apply to all students:

TUITION - the definition, formula and amount is set by the provincial government through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, who oversees publically run institutions across the province. They also determine and set any increase well in advance and communicate this to the colleges so they can plan for it and work within their guidelines including specific minimums and maximums for any increase.

ANCILLARY/ GENERAL FEES - These are additional fees on top of tuition that provide specific services to students through both the college and the student union. There are 14 services. Some examples include a co-op fee if you are in a program with a co-op component, a general student activity fee, bus pass, alumni fee, health insurance fee, athletics fee, and a technology fee. A typical full-time student for one term pays about $430 dollars worth of fees in this category.

The process for this starts a year prior to the following school year, where the existing fees are set as benchmarks and then any increases or not are discussed. The final numbers are then brought to the Student Administrative Council, and the Student Union who make their decision. Then it moves to the Board of Governors, along with a student representative on the board who represents students not covered by the student union, for the final say. The approval usually happens early on in the year so it gives both current and future students a chance to see what the fees will be for the coming school year.

Even though some of the fees under the general fees category might not apply to all, it is still important to understand all of it goes back into the college, says Emily Marcoccia, director of marketing and corporate communications for Fanshawe College.

“Most of these ancillary fees are going right back into operations that directly affect students, in fact all of them are. It's just that some students may not choose to use all of the services,” she said. “We do know that there are some students who never use their bus pass but because of this concept of universality they pay into it if they go to the London campus.”

“Almost all of our fees are fairly common in the college (and) university system. We have very few unique ancillary fees,” she added.

The last category in terms of fees also applies to some but not all students. It applies to 20 or so programs, where additional fees are charged for the operation of them or due to a unique feature. This is called a “differentiated” fee, which is set by the government.

It applies to high demand programs such as dental hygiene or paramedics in order for these programs to keep up with industry standards, whereas programs such as general arts and sciences have no such fee. The fee increase is usually around four-five per cent with an eight per cent ceiling put in place by the provincial government.

This specific category has a rigorous process to follow for approval or disapproval, said Marcoccia.

“There must be a reason, the program has to present a reason to the college. It also has to be accompanied by a business plan and rationale for it for any increase,” she said.

Overall, Marcoccia emphasized that the college is accountable with their finances through presenting an annual report, and reporting to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Fanshawe also releases an audited statement, and a financial statement while additionally producing a handout entitled “Fanshawe Facts.” This newsletter comes out around February or March and breaks down, in an easy-to-digest format, where your money goes.

She also added that this process prevents the “rubber stamping” approach by the decision-makers.

“People are way more pragmatic, absolutely way more pragmatic and keen, and aware and inquisitive and asking where their money is going. Why is it going here? Why am I spending this much? How do you spend it?”

If you are still wondering where your money goes - a list of tuition, ancillary fees and program-specific fees can be found at www.fanshawec.ca/fees.