A student fee or student activity fee is a fee charged to students at a school, college, university or other place of learning that is in addition to any matriculation and/or tuition fees. It may be charged to support student organizations and student activities (for which it can be called an activity fee) or for intercollegiate programs such as intramural sports or visiting academics; or, at a public university or college, as a means to remedy shortfalls in state funding (in which case it can often be called a technology fee). Further fees may then be charged for features and facilities such as insurance, health and parking provision.
Constitutionality of activity fees
In the United States, the constitutionality of mandatory student activity fees has been adjudicated several times by the Supreme Court. Most recently, the Court has ruled that public universities may subsidize political groups by means of a mandatory student activity fees so long as the manner in which such funds are dispersed are political neutral.
[T]he First Amendment permits a public university to charge its students an activity fee used to fund a program to facilitate extracurricular student speech, provided that the program is viewpoint neutral.”— Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth et al.
Despite the commentary of the US Supreme Court, most student activity fee funds are today used by-and-large for non-political purposes.
[Research has] found that, by and large, funds distributed by student governments go to non-political organizations. Where fees are used for political groups, the distribution seems to reflect the preferences of the student body; thus, they meet the Supreme Court’s “viewpoint neutral” standard.— Jenna Ashley Robinson, Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Why?
Student fee cases
- Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, 515 U. S. 819 (1995)
- Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth 529 U.S. 217 (2000)
University of New Hampshire
The Student Activity Fee of the University of New Hampshire is relatively unique amongst other comparable institutions of secondary education in that the fee is administered by its autonomous student government, free from faculty or staff advisors. During fiscal year 2019, all undergraduate students attending UNH paid $89 towards their fee.
- Robinson, Jenna. "Student Activity Fees: Who Gets What and Why?" (PDF). www.johnlocke.org. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia". Oyez. Jun 29, 1995. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Board of Regents , University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth". Oyez. Mar 22, 2000. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Student Senate". University of New Hampshire. 2014-01-23. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Student Activity Fee". Memorial Union & Student Activities. 2017-08-04. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Student Activity Fee Committee". University of New Hampshire. 2017-11-12. Retrieved 2018-12-16.