Graduation fee reaches its end, technology fee to start

by Angela Niesz

Move over graduation fee, the technology fee is coming in.

In order to counterbalance that fee, the graduation and transcript fees won’t be implemented next school year.

Vice President for Business and Finance Ken Birkenholtz explained why this occurred.

“I’ve never liked the graduation fee,” Birkenholtz said. “And I just thought, ‘Well, if we’re going to institute another fee let’s take one away.’ So we took it away.”

This wasn’t the first time the idea had been brought up.

“We have a suggestion box downstairs for the president,” Birkenholtz said. “I think one of the only suggestions we’ve ever gotten is, ‘Let’s get rid of the graduation fee.’ That was a couple years ago.”

The graduation fee paid by past and current graduating seniors was for a reason.

“It just basically allowed you to walk,” Birkenholtz said. “I think all the graduates had to pay it. We have quite a few expenses involved with the actual graduation ceremony.”

Some of the expenses are small while others are much larger.

“Caps and gowns, and I think chair rentals are big components of it,” Birkenholtz said.

Seating arrangements seem to be one of the greater costs for the graduation ceremony.

“We have to rent chairs and that type of thing over at Cowles,” Birkenholtz said. “That’s probably one of the biggest expenses we have.”

Without the graduation fee to help pay for the costs designated to commencement, money will have to come from elsewhere.

President John Byrd is prepared to make such modifications.

“We will take that out of our general operating budget,” Byrd said. “And we will be making adjustments to allow for that happen.”

The graduation fee brought in little income compared to what the technology fee will raise.

“(The graduation fee) generated a little over $30,000 a year,” Birkenholtz said. “(The technology fee will acquire) something probably north of $200,000 a year.”

The gained income will go towards technology.

“What we spend on technology is an ever-growing hit to the budget,” Birkenholtz said. “And it’s a pretty typical fee to see. A lot of other colleges have tech fees, which a lot of them are higher than ours.”

Recent upgrades of technology have been costly, and Byrd provides a few examples.

“We’ve upgraded the bandwidth for the campus network a couple years ago,” Byrd said. “We went completely wireless campus wide. All of those are large investments that we make in technology, and we believe that we’ll have to continue making those investments well into the future.”

Current seniors must pay the graduation fee while upcoming seniors will be exempt.

“After this year, everyone will come in under the new plan,” Byrd said.