Course Fee Policy
Tuition is approved by the Board of Trustees and complies in all material respects with applicable laws, University of Illinois Statutes, The General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure, and Board of Trustees policies and directives. The Vice President for Academic Affairs, in conjunction with the three campus provosts oversees course fee guidelines, their review and compliance.
Course fees, when approved, must be separate, unique and used solely for support of the courses involved. Course Fees can be assessed for special, unique costs required for materials or other tangible products or services such as those that are retained by the student in a credit course, cost of plane rentals for aviation instruction, transportation and admission costs incurred on field trips required in course instruction, the development of online courses, etc. In such cases, the charge cannot exceed the cost of providing the product or service available to the student. Difficulty in securing adequate regular budget support shall not be the determining factor in the decision to charge selected students a course fee. All units must strive to administer the course fee funds in ways that provide students paying those fees a reasonable opportunity to benefit equitably from the expenditure of the course fee.
All course fees and changes to established course fees must be approved in writing by the Provost or designee(s). Ensuring that these policies are observed is a shared responsibility between the department, college, and Provost or designee(s). Information about individual course fees must be clearly advertised prior to registration for the semester in which the course fee is assessed.
Collection of course fees in the classroom is not allowed. Students will be made aware of course fees prior to registration through the class schedule. Billing and payment of course fees is through the standard University business practices.
These general guidelines are approved by the VPAA and the provosts. Each campus has established campus specific guidelines that build upon these University of Illinois Course Fee Guidelines.
Course Fee Guidelines
The following course fee guidelines are intended to aid in interpretation of the University of Illinois Course Fee Policy. Note that the university’s policy conforms to the State of Illinois Legislative Audit Commission’s University Guidelines (1982) on “Tuition, Charges and Fees.”
Special course fees MAY be charged in the following situations:
- For materials used in creating a tangible product that is retained by a student upon completion of a credit-bearing course.
Example: In a design class, a course fee may be assessed to pay for the supplies students use to make pieces of jewelry if students keep the jewelry at semester’s end.
- For transportation and admission costs incurred on domestic field trips that are a required activity in a course. International travel should be arranged through Illinois Abroad and Global Exchange or the home unit’s education abroad office.
Example: In a history class, a course fee may be assessed to pay for admission to a museum in Chicago, as well as bus transportation to and from the museum. (Note that the fee may also include payment for snacks and meals consumed during the trip if doing so simplifies scheduling and represents a cost savings for students.)
- For costs incurred by departments when instruction requires use of facilities that the department does not control.
Example: For a kinesiology class, a course fee may be assessed to pay for use of tennis courts controlled by the Division of Campus Recreation.
Special course fees MAY NOT be charged in the following situations:
- For health and safety equipment required in carrying out course activities.
Example: In an engineering class, a course fee may not be assessed to cover the cost of OSHA-required safety shields, respirators, eye wash equipment, etc. Even though students may retain such safety equipment at semester’s end, it is likely to have no useful or resale value past the duration of the course. (See exception, below.)
- For computer and other laboratory equipment usage, primary software, maintenance and related supplies, used by all students and remaining with the college or department at semester’s end.
Example: In an accounting class, a course fee may not be assessed to cover the cost of licensing special software applications that students are required to use. Likewise, no assessment is permitted to cover the cost of CAD/CAM software in architecture courses or experiment simulation software in a chemistry laboratory. Such licenses are typically assigned to a machine (e.g., a PC or a server) and not a specific user.
- For instructional services rendered by faculty, staff, and teaching assistants, except in the case of private music instruction.
- In general, for activities required in the course of instruction, even if such activities represent special or extraordinary cost.
Example: In a biology class, a course fee may not be assessed for the purpose of purchasing specimens for dissection. Likewise, in a photography class, a course fee may not be charged for lab chemicals.
The following items are considered to be PERSONAL expenses, but may be assessed as a course fee if the expenses are incurred in direct connection with a required course activity and if the expense is substantially reduced by buying access to a service at a group rate or by purchasing goods in bulk. The savings the students realize must constitute a steep discount from the market price regularly available to students and must be appropriately documented. Personal expenses that may be assessed as course fees include:
- Food, lodging, and incidentals needed during a required field trips.
- Personal health, safety, and dress requirements related to instruction.
Example: Health and safety supplies such as ear plugs, goggles, etc.
The following items are considered to be PERSONAL expenses, and may not be charged as course fees.
- Transportation to sites related to student teaching, clinical assignments, and other practical activities.
- Equipment recommended (i.e., not required) in a credit-bearing course.
- Required books, publications, and software, even if retained by the student at the completion of the course. (For these items, it is best that students have the freedom to shop competitively in markets that include legally obtained used goods.)
Requesting a Course Fee
Units must complete a course fee request form for any new fee or any change to an existing fee. Fees are requested either as part of the New Course Proposal or of the Course Revision submission via the Course Inventory Management system.
All course fees and changes to established course fees must be requested in writing and approved in writing by the Provost or designee(s). Insuring that these policies are observed is a shared responsibility among the requesting department, college, and Provost or designee(s). Information about individual course fees must be clearly advertised prior to registration for the term in which the course fee is assessed.
Departments should be aware that, while the course fee is considered a cost of education, it is not calculated in financial aid awards. Therefore, departments should be judicious in deciding which courses truly require a unique fee.
Deadlines and Billing
Course fees will not be added after registration has begun. Therefore, requests must be made well in advance of registration for the term in which the fee is to be assessed. This allows sufficient time for review and implementation.
Billing and payment of course fees must observe standard University business practices. Collection of course fees in the classroom is not allowed, and collection by a departmental office must conform to strict accounting requirements established by OBFS—and is discouraged. The preferred method of course fee collection involves posting charges to student accounts.
Updated April 2019