Tag: money

JSU generated over $8.3 million in fees from Fall 2018, Spring 2019 semesters

By Scott Young

News Editor

Each student who was enrolled at Jacksonville State University in the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters paid a $200 ‘general university fee’ on top of numerous other small fees and hundreds of dollars in tuition per credit hour.

Buffy Lockette, JSU’s public relations director, provided a breakdown of the general university fee from the JSU Controller’s office as well as information about how the allocations are decided.

Of the $200 fee, $60 went to transportation, $40 to student health, $35 to university recreation, $35 to the library, $15 to classroom improvements, $10 to capital planning and facilities and $5 to ‘special projects’. The special project for the 2018-2019 fiscal year was labeled ‘Marching Southerners’.

For Spring 2019, the university initially allocated $35 of the $200 fee to university recreation. Lockette later stated that the $35 for university recreation allocated in Spring 2019 was “re-allocated internally in the spring to capital projects to support technology upgrades in the classroom.” However, the $35 for university recreation in Fall 2018 was not reallocated.

“The Tuition and Fees Committee makes a recommendation each year to the President and VP of Business and Finance [James Brigham] and those recommendations are reviewed and presented to the Board of Trustees for approval at the April trustee meeting,” said Lockette.

According to Blake Hunter, the coordinator of Institutional Research at JSU, during the fall semester of 2018, there were 8,479 students enrolled at JSU and in the spring semester of 2019 there were 7,726 students enrolled.

On average, Jacksonville State University students pay just shy of $4,000 for tuition each semester, not including fees. The JSU ‘general university fee’ generated an estimated $3,241,000 from both Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 alone, while the Recreation and Fitness Center fee, technology fee and student activity fee brought in an estimated $5,104,575.

Lockette went on to state that the fee allocations for the Fall 2019 semester have not been decided, and that fees for the upcoming semesters will be bundled and charged per credit hour.

Summer Fee Graphic
Infographic shows the 95 percent and 5 percent split of the $200 Summer General University Fund.

 

For the summer, students taking between one to three credit hours pay a $100 general university fee and students taking three or more credit hours pay $200. However, despite the $100 difference between these two fees, students who paid $100 and those who paid $200 both have equal access to the Recreation Center for the entire summer.

Lockette confirmed that during the Summer 2019 semester, 95 percent of the general university fee was allocated to the Recreation and Fitness Center, while the remaining five percent is allocated for student health.

Microsoft Word - Allocation of General University Fee.docx
JSU Public Relations Director Buffy Lockette confirmed the breakdown of the Summer General University Fee with this document above.

 

“As long as a student is taking at least one class, they will have access into the facility for the whole summer,” said Cecelia Chavez, the coordinator of facility operations for the Recreation Center.

Ashley Stephens, an art major at JSU who is taking summer classes, expressed dissatisfaction with the university over the two different fee amounts for equal summer Recreation Center access.

“As someone who is taking 11 hours and knowing that people taking only 3 hours don’t have to pay as much as me for fees makes me mad,” said Stephens. “It’s not fair to me and anyone who is trying to continue their education. This isn’t good for students’ pockets, and it’s not good for JSU’s image.”

Students like Emily Barfield, a cellular and molecular biology major, have no problem with allowing all summer students equal access to a facility she denotes as “necessary”.

“I’m taking six credit hours this summer so I paid the $200general university fee. I am not bothered that students who only paid $100 get to use the same recreation center that I get to use,” said Barfield. “On the other hand, I would be bothered if they just let any student, regardless if they were taking classes or not, use the recreation center after we had to pay the fee.”

The breakdown of where the general university fee is allocated is not readily available on the JSU website, nor is it reflected on students’ accounts when paying tuition and fees. The Chanticleer obtained the information by contacting Buffy Lockette, who then requested the information from the Controller’s office.

Stephens argues that the university should be more public with information pertaining to tuition and fees, including where the general university fee is allocated.

“I know most people want to know where their money is going,” said Stephens. “I think it can make the university look shady and like they’re withholding information from the students and their parents.”

Barfield sided with the university, citing the methods and practices of other universities.

“I looked into that [public accessibility of fee breakdown] with other universities and no other universities had anything about their fees or where the money actually goes posted on their websites,” said Barfield. “As much backlash as JSU has gotten from this recreation fee, I think they may even be less open about things moving forward.”

Lockette defends the university’s process of deliberating tuition and fee changes. She describes the Tuition and Fees committee as a “diverse mix of faculty, staff and students.”

“All trustee meetings are open to the public, the SGA President has a seat at the table, and the President’s office always sends a reminder email inviting the Chanticleer to attend,” said Lockette.

Editor’s note: Fees have been applied to student accounts for students who are already enrolled in fall classes. Starting in fall of 2019, the “General University Fee” covers all other fees (excluding individual program fees.) For students taking more than six hours this coming semester, the flat rate is $700, which is an $113 increase from previous semesters (based on an average student’s 12 hour semester.) For more information on the fall fees, visit JSU’s Office of Student Accounts page at http://www.jsu.edu/bursar/fees/index.html and look for a new article from The Chanticleer soon regarding the changes to the fee structure.

It’s our money, and we want it now! Department Spotlight: Financial Aid & Scholarships

The job never stops in room 107, Bibb Graves, otherwise known as the Financial Aid Office. Work begins at 8 a.m. and lasts until 4:30 p.m. or at least that is what the sign says. However, the employees of the Financial Aid Office often come early and stay late because they have to in order to get everything done.

What does the Student Financial Services department do exactly? They help us get everything in order for JSU students to go to college, but what all does that entail?

When asked, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Stephanie Miller said, “The better question is what do we not do?”

Some of their toughest work begins with first-time students because they are starting from scratch. The parents and students are lost and it is the job of the financial aid employees to work out a path for that potential student.

That means discussing what grants, loans and scholarships may or may not be available to that student.

It is their job and they do their absolute best to find the aid that the student needs.

The employees of the Financial Aid Office also have stacks of forms that need to be processed towering on their desks. That does not include the electronic forms that students can fill out online.

Miller said that on one occasion the office had about 3,000 e-forms that needed to be processed in one day.

The abundance of these forms is due to the fact that about 80% of the student body here at JSU receives some sort of financial aid.

In addition to processing forms everyday, they deal with students and parents calling, emailing and visiting with more questions. These questions and visits are welcomed by Student Financial Services.

Not only do they work on campus, but they also visit high schools to reach out to potential students. The office holds FAFSA filing days to help upcoming students and their parents.

They have to work under terms provided by the university, but they also have federal regulations to abide by.

These regulations may change from year to year so sometimes the Financial Aid Office must adjust the way things are done. This may seem like an annoyance to students, but it is done in order for JSU to keep its funding.

The Student Financial Services does all the work that is required of them, but also continues to add features to improve our system.

For example, the electronic forms students can now use is a relatively new addition. JSU also has a feature that sets itself apart from other schools.

“We have an open-door policy. Any student or parent can come in and talk to anyone in this office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. There is no appointment needed,” said Director Vickie Adams.

JSU also offers a wide variety of scholarships. In fact, Assistant Director of Scholarships and Veteran Affairs Martin Weldon already has a desk stacked high with completed applications.

Much of what the Scholarship and Veteran’s Affairs Office does is similar to that of the Financial Aid Office. In fact, the Scholarship and Veteran’s Affairs Office is just another division of it.

The Student Financial Services is divided between the Financial Aid Office, which handles loans and grants, and the Scholarship Office, which handles scholarships and VA benefits.

The workers of the Scholarship Office process scholarship and VA applications. If a student receives either, it becomes the job of this office to manage and credit that student’s account with the money awarded.

Not only does JSU have a website with about 200 different scholarship opportunities, but our school also accepts outside offers.

In fact, Weldon encourages students not to limit themselves to JSU resources. When it comes to school offered scholarships, it is very important to know that the application deadline is March 1 of every year.

“You can’t get selected if you don’t apply,” said Weldon.

Ultimately, the Student Financial Services Office relies on the students just as much as the students rely on them. Without them, students would be lost. Despite popular belief that the Financial Aid Office is a scary place, the workers are kind and welcoming.

“Our primary focus is the students and we love to see them succeed,” said Adams.

Katelyn Schneider
Staff Writer

Possibility of increased tuition, Coliseum to get new floors, seats

The Jacksonville State University Board of Trustees held their last meeting of the year last Monday, October 20 on the eleventh floor of the Houston Cole Library.

At the start of Monday’s meeting, the Board announced that the Presidential Screening Committee would be meeting later in the afternoon. According to board member Rodney Smith, three potential candidates have been chosen thus far in the search for a new president for Jacksonville State.

“We plan to set the tone of where we want to go,” Smith said. “We haven’t acted upon anything yet.”

Randy Owen announced a proposal from the Academic Affairs Committee for a research center for veterans to provide an avenue in research and education to those serving our country. The Academic Affairs Committee plans to use a holistic approach to study the needs of veteran students and support them in every way possible.

“As a veteran, this is the best thing I’ve seen this board do and those involved should be applauded for their efforts,” said Clarence W. Daugette III in regards to this proposition. The board approved this proposal.

Smith then brought forward the Building & Finance Committee plans. He first motioned to change the bank used by the bond trustee from The Bank of New York Mellon to Regions. Board members approved this change.

Tuition quickly became a topic of conversation as Smith continued on to discuss the budget for the 2014-2015 academic year. Due to cuts in the budget, he speculated that at this time, there is to be a 5% tuition increase next year.

While he emphasized that tuition was to be finalized at a later date, he did make it clear that without a 5% increase in enrollment or tuition hours to balance out the difference, the matter would be out of the board’s hands. No decisions have been made regarding tuition, and, if an increase is to occur, there will be a meeting at a later date to solidify a decision.

Board member Randall Jones asked the board and those in attendance of this meeting, “What can we do to increase enrollment and credit hours?” Jones asked Brett Johnson, SGA President, to put a committee together to help this matter so that students are aware that promotion of our university is crucial, especially in regards to tuition costs.

Smith continued the meeting by bringing up the second phase of renovation to the Pete Mathews Coliseum. This involves all new floors and seats for the Coliseum, which was built in 1974.

The goal of this renovation is to make the Coliseum more welcoming for graduation and heighten fan enthusiasm during games. Altogether, the second phase of construction will cost 1.3 million dollars.

Other subjects discussed Monday included new chillers in the TMB and Martin Hall, occupancy rates for on and off-campus housing, and honors program rates. Dr. Meehan announced that JSU’s average ACT score is now a 22.6, an increase from last year. New department heads and directors were also recognized.

Dr. Janet Moore expressed the need for more tutors and drop-in tutoring locations like the one located in Martin Hall.

Dr. Alicia Simmons showed how the money from the First in the World grant would be used across the university. The 3.2 million dollars will be spread across four years, then divided into money for iPads, classroom upgrades, more employees, and the IT expansion. Simmons announced that starting next fall, incoming freshmen will get iPads on a yearly check-out basis.

Alex McFry
Associate Editor