A Few Crazy College Fees That Are Driving Education Online

Howard University sneaks in a $100 “globalization fee” to fund international travel, regardless of whether students study abroad. Another school charges $185 for an “undergraduate entering fee”, reports ProPublica. “It’s all smoke and mirrors in some ways, the issue of tuition and fees,” admits Terry Meyers to, an English professor at the College of William and Mary. It’s these insanely high costs of college that are driving higher education online at a crazy fast pace.


College tuition has increased a mind-boggling 1,210% in 30 years. According to the College Board, the average debt of college graduates is a whopping $13,600, growing at 2.1% beyond inflation since 2005. Compounding the problem is a mountain of hidden fees. In the Oregon university system, fees added as much as 40% to tuition costs, as of 2007. At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, students pay:

  • a $675 “service fee”
  • $47 in “activities fees”
  • a $327 “basic health fee”
  • a $3,209.50 “curriculum fee”

Colleges typically justify fees to maintain a certain quality of life, but they’re force-feeding students ostentatious social expenses without their consent. I loved the rock climbing wall at UC Irvine, but I’m not sure students would agree that it’s worth the debt. At some point, manicured parks must give way to priorities.

As a result of the skyrocketing costs, California is considering stripping their university system of the power to deny online courses for credit. The largest university system in the world has already announced a pilot with Massively Open Online course (MOOC) provider, Udacity, for $150 remedial lower-division courses at San Jose State University.

Professors, by and large, are freaking out about a new proposed law to mandate accepting online course credit. “There is no possibility that University of California faculty will shirk its responsibility to our students by ceding authority over courses to any outside agency,” wrote the faculty senate in a strongly worded letter.

The move to online education will eventually end high education as we know it. Research professors will lose the revenue from undergraduates and administrators will lose funds for pretty campuses. Colleges are shooting themselves in the foot with these crazy fees.