Resolution on SSETF Funds

Principles to be Followed for the Distribution and Spending of SSETF Funds

Whereas last year, the University established the Student Success, Excellence and Technology Fee (SSETF); 

Whereas the fee subsumed the existing Instructionally Related Activities (IRA) fee as well all miscellaneous course/lab fees;

Whereas in addition to supporting these existing expenses, the fee has the goals of “facilitat(ing) student and student athlete graduation and retention rates and strengthen(ing) student learning through improved use of technology;"

Whereas during Fall 2012, the initial semester when the fee was charged, students paid $215, and the fee is scheduled to increase by $40 every semester for the next four years; and

Whereas as the fee increases, there will be increasing requests for access to these fee monies; and therefore be it

Resolved that the members of the University Council of Chairs and Directors urge the University to hold to the following principles in the distribution of the SSETF funds:

1.     There should be a comprehensive, transparent accounting of the distribution of ALL SSETF fees. In Fall 2013, full-time undergraduates will pay $3633 per semester, 25% of which is fees. Graduate students pay the same fees.  As the SSETF increases in the coming semesters, that percentage will grow. Students have a right to know how the money is being spent, and the evaluative metrics for determining their effective use.  The University should be committed to transparency on the uses of SSETF. Sufficient detail should be provided to ensure that those paying the fees know where it is being spent.

2.     Departments that had their fees subsumed into the SSETF should continue to get funding per student equivalent to the amounts that were previously collected through their course fees. Departments that had approved course and/or lab fees have relied on these fees for years in order to be able to operate. The fees were approved when departments could show that the instructional needs of their programs necessitated such fees. For instance, departments in the college of science requested fees to cover the cost of expendable lab equipment and other items needed to keep laboratories up to date and safe. These costs were not funded through OE&E allocations. Similar fees were in place in the arts, applied sciences, engineering, etc.

a.     Departments with existing approved fees must have a regular mechanism for requesting fee adjustments on an annual basis, indicating how the fees will be used.

3.     When new courses are created or existing courses modified such that technology, lab or course support is required, there must be a mechanism to request such fees. The previous course fee system allowed individual departments to request fees for new courses. Undergraduate and graduate studies should develop a process to request such fees at the time that new courses are proposed.

 4.     Because the SSETF fee is now collected from all students, a substantial amount of the net revenue increase should be allocated to Academic Affairs.  While there may be an assumption of efficiency associated with a cumulative fee collection, achieving purposeful and strategic (and thus efficient) use of funds requires “local” faculty involvement in allocations.   Accordingly, distribution of the excess SSETF funding to Colleges should be done in consultation with the faculty, chairs, staff, and deans of that college. 

June 12, 2013