Introduction

At the University of Washington course fees are a mechanism to add value to state-supported course offerings, by deepening the experience students receive, and especially as regards laboratory and field courses where additional resources translate directly into experiential learning.

In the College of the Environment, both undergraduate and graduate coursework involves a significant amount of experiential learning, occasionally far afield.  In these cases, the College endorses the imposition of a course fee to help defray these expenses and allow our academic units to continue to provide high quality learning to our students.

Although the College of the Environment must rely on course fees to assist in delivering high cost courses, the College is dedicated to insuring that all of our students have access to a quality education, and no students are prevented from receiving that education because of the necessary imposition of course fees.

Rules governing costs that may be covered by course fees are explicitly covered in Administrative Policy Statement 33.01 (APS).

The College of the Environment is also dedicated to transparency, and specifically to making sure that students are aware of the total value, and the total cost, of their education, whether they are taking an elective in our College, or graduating as one of our majors.  According to the rules of the University, all course fees need to be published in the University Time Schedule so that registering students can calculate their additional costs.  Beyond publication of the specific course fee amount, the College of the Environment and its academic units will provide students with two additional pieces of information regarding course fees:

Unit Policies and Cost Categories.  Each academic unit has developed a general policy statement indicating what type(s) of expenses are currently paid for by central (unit level) resources, and what type(s) of expenses are paid for via course fees.  These statements are meant to explain to students both the value of the additional learning experiences, and the cost associated with those experiences.

Total Cost.  The College of the Environment will provide students with a general guideline as to the total amount in course fees each of our undergraduate majors and minors currently cost, so that students may reasonably calculate their total educational expenses more accurately.

Why add a course fee

To allow a course to provide more in-depth experiential learning not otherwise possible due to financial limitations of the sponsoring unit.

What can course fees cover?

  • Equipment – in cases where the equipment is used for one or more courses and the equipment is not housed in or used by a research laboratory.
  • Material and Supplies – including but not limited to laboratory and field trip “tangibles” (i.e., non-equipment that lasts for more than one course offering) and “expendables” (e.g., chemicals).
  • Cleaning/servicing for teaching equipment.
  • Travel costs for field trips including but not limited to UW vehicle charges, food, and overnight accommodation.
  • Select personnel costs for technicians or other professionals where work specifically supports a course (e.g., part of the cost of a laboratory technician supporting a chemistry lab).

What costs can’t be paid for with course fees?

  • Instructional salary and benefit costs (e.g., faculty and TA time).
  • Equipment, materials, or other tangible resources that are used within a research (non-teaching) program.

How to set a course fee

  1. Document all allowable expenses and estimate the per student costs.
  2. If estimate < $50, set fee at estimate.
  3. If estimate > $50, set fee at $50, or set fee at estimate (see below for differences in approval process).
  4. All new course fees and existing course fee changes must subscribe to a unit-level course fee policy on record with the Dean’s Office.

Course fee request submission deadlines

Quarter Course Offered Winter 2018 Spring 2018 Summer 2018 Autumn 2018 Winter 2019 Spring 2019
Deadline 9/19/17 11/17/17 1/10/18 2/7/18 5/18/18 Autumn 2018

Approval process for new fees

If fee is ≤ $50

1. Submit to the Dean’s Office, coenvaa@uw.edu:

  • a detailed budget outlining anticipated (or documented in the case of an existing course) costs. Use the Sample Course Fee Worksheet (or similar spreadsheet) to calculate costs.
  • unit refund policy for returning part or all of the course fee if a student drops the course after the 14th calendar day of the quarter or if the actual course expenditures associated with the fee are at least 10% lower than the course fee.
  • completed College of the Environment Course Fee Request Form.

2.  If approved, the College of the Environment Dean’s Office will complete the UW Request to Add or Change a Course Fee Form and submit it to the Time Schedule Office.

If fee is > $50

1. Submit to the Dean’s Office, coenvaa@uw.edu:

  • a detailed budget outlining anticipated (or documented in the case of an existing course) costs.
  • unit refund policy for returning part or all of the course fee if a student drops the course after the 14th calendar day of the quarter or if the actual course expenditures associated with the fee are at least 10% lower than the course fee.
  • completed College of the Environment Course Fee Request Form.

2. If approved, the Dean’s Office will submit the request to the UW Office of Planning and Budgeting for approval.
3. If approved by the Office of Planning and Budgeting, the College of the Environment Dean’s Office will complete the UW Request to Add or Change a Course Fee Form and submit it to the Time Schedule Office.

How to change a course fee

Once established, course fees may be changed no more than once per year. Initiative 960 has instituted a maximum annual increase of 10%. Annual increases of greater than 10% are possible in exceptional cases.

Approval process for increasing a course fee

If increase is ≤ 10%

1.  Submit to the Dean’s Office, coenvaa@uw.edu:

  • a detailed budget outlining anticipated costs.
  • unit refund policy for returning part or all of the course fee if a student drops the course after the 14th calendar day of the quarter or if the actual course expenditures associated with the fee are at least 10% lower than the course fee.
  • completed College of the Environment Course Fee Request Form.

2.  If approved, the College of the Environment Dean’s Office will complete the UW Request to Add or Change a Course Fee Form and submit it to the Time Schedule Office.

If increase is > 10%

1. Submit to the Dean’s Office, coenvaa@uw.edu:

  • a detailed budget outlining anticipated (or documented in the case of an existing course) costs.
  • unit refund policy for returning part or all of the course fee if a student drops the course after the 14th calendar day of the quarter or if the actual course expenditures associated with the fee are at least 10% lower than the course fee.
  • completed College of the Environment Course Fee Request Form.

2. If approved, the Dean’s Office will submit the request to the UW Office of Planning and Budgeting for approval.
3. If approved by the Office of Planning and Budgeting, the College of the Environment Dean’s Office will complete the UW Request to Add or Change a Course Fee Form and submit it to the Time Schedule Office.

Course fees for special topics courses

The College of the Environment recognizes the need to pilot new courses and offer unique one-time offerings using existing Special Topics course numbers. The college also recognizes that these special offerings may require course fees to support field trips, labs, and materials and supplies. Because Special Topics course numbers are used annually to offer a range of courses within each unit, the college will not approve course fees assigned broadly to those numbers. However, the college will review requests for course fees assigned to specific sections of Special Topics course numbers for a specific quarter. Such fees will only be approved for the specific section requested and for one quarter.

Units who want to request the same fee for the same Special Topics course section across one or more offerings will need to submit a new request and course fee budget documentation prior to each offering. When submitting a Special Topics course fee request, units must indicate the course section that will be used and the quarter the course will next be offered.  All other information is outlined in the current course fee policy and request form.

After the quarter in which the Special Topics course is offered, the approved fee will be deleted from the course database by the Time Schedule Office. In keeping with the UW and Office of the Registrar policies, the college encourages units to convert recurring Special Topics offerings into permanent course numbers.

Units who want to request the same fee for the same Special Topics course section across one or more offerings will need to submit a new request and course fee budget documentation prior to each offering. When submitting a Special Topics course fee request, units must indicate the course section that will be used and the quarter the course will next be offered.  All other information is outlined in the current course fee policy and request form.

Course fees for Summer Quarter courses

Units who want to offer Summer Quarter courses with a field-trip component should first contact the Summer Quarter Program office to formulate an agreement regarding enrollment plans.

In addition to instructional costs for a field course, the Summer Quarter budget covers:

  • Instructor (and TA, if applicable) transportation
  • Instructor/TA  lodging and per diem allowance for food. These expenses need to adhere to UW’s travel policies and the allowance amounts specified on the UW travel site.
  • Van rental and ferry fares, if applicable

Other student travel expenses may be covered by course fees. Examples of expenses covered under course fees include:

  • Student food and lodging
  • Individual supplies that are kept by the student

Course fees are managed by the academic department hosting the course and must be approved by that unit’s College; course fees are not included in Summer Quarter TeamBudget. For detailed information on planning summer quarter course budgeting, see the Summer Quarter 2018 Budgeting Guide.

Notifying students of new or changed course fees

Once a new course fee or change to an existing course fee has been approved, the unit is responsible for notifying affected students at least 30 days prior to implementation.  A note added to the Time Schedule comments for the course can serve as notification to all students intending to register for the course.

Providing feedback on course fees

Students enrolled in courses with a course fee; and faculty, teaching assistants, and select professional staff assisting in course preparation and delivery may provide feedback on course fees at any time.  Comments and concerns should be addressed in writing to the following authorities in sequential order:

  • Chair or Director of the academic unit sponsoring the course
  • College of the Environment Dean’s Office
  • Office of Planning and Budgeting

Course fee accounting

Units are responsible for generating and implementing an accounting procedure allowing them to track actual use of course fees per course offering.

Questions? Contact Michelle Hall, Director of Student & Academic Services or Julia Parrish, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, coenvaa@uw.edu.