Approval of Charges to Students, Staff and the Public
Provide oversight and control over charges to students, faculty, staff, and the public for goods and services that support or institute programs that are funded by user charges or to recover funds for expenses.
All University of Kansas Departments
There has been an increasing tendency for departments/units to charge for goods and services to students, faculty, staff and the public to support or institute programs that are funded by user charges or to recover funds for expenses. Examples might be locker fees for students, faculty and staff, fitness programs, or student service programs (transcript charges, student i.d. card, etc.) The common feature of these charges is that they are intended to generate additional income to the department and the University by charging individuals for services. The University is concerned about the proliferation of such charges and is attempting to provide oversight and control over these charges.
Cash charges are inherently different from those imposed on a department by another unit within the University. For example, Unrelated Business Income Taxes and Public/Private competition issues become possible factors. Interdepartmental charges are now covered by the University's Service Center and Recharge Center Fee policy and are reviewed by the Service Center Rate Reviewer (“SCRR”).
- To Whom Does This Policy Apply
For the purposes of this document, any fees for goods or services which are collected from a student, faculty or staff member, or the general public is designated a service fee. The policy of the University is that no applicable service fee shall be collected, instituted or increased without procedural approval as outlined below.
The policy and procedural guidance set forth in this document applies to all service fees except those excluded under one of the following categories:
- Required campus fees and other fees approved by the Board of Regents
- All fees or charges for activities of the following separate corporations: the Kansas Memorial Unions, the Kansas University Athletic Corporation, the Kansas University Alumni Association, and the Kansas University Endowment Association.
- Fees for educational or training workshops and seminars sponsored by University departments through Continuing Education. However, these units may be asked to provide an explanation of the methods used to establish the fees for such activities.
- Fees by the Housing Department and Watkins Health Services.
- Course charges through third party vendors that are handled on an individual basis through the Provost Office.
All service fees not covered by one of the above exclusions must follow the guidelines set forth below. Questions in regard to the application of this document to specific fees should be directed to the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance.
NOTE – Per KU and Kansas Board of Regents policies, under no circumstances are departments allowed to charge a course fee related to an individual class(es).
- General Guidelines
The guiding philosophy is that no student, staff member or the public should be charged for services which the University would be expected to provide without charge. Service fees are appropriate when the University or its units experience significant or unusual costs, which cannot be reasonably covered by appropriated funding. In those instances the purpose of the service fee is to reimburse a department for the actual cost of providing goods or services beyond the funded portion of its budget. Board of Regents policy on Sales of Products and Services[HJS1] 12 (II.D.9) requires that the provision of goods and services to the public does not inappropriately or unfairly compete with the private sector. The single most important criterion under Board policy is that the provision of goods or services must be a legitimate function of the University's instructional, research or public service mission. This document on service fees is intended to provide review and oversight of the Board policy as well as University policy.
- Unrelated Business Income Tax
Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) is federal tax imposed on any not-for-profit organization for activities not substantially related to its mission. The tax determination is a complex process requiring knowledge of both the tax code and the particular circumstances under which the income is generated. As a result, each revenue source has to be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine if income is taxable or exempt. It is also important to note that the need of an organization for the funds or the use of the income once generated have no bearing on the tax determination. The purpose of UBIT evaluation, which is accomplished through the General Counsel's office in cooperation with the University’s Tax Analyst and the Comptroller’s Office, is not to limit funding options but to ensure compliance with recordkeeping and reporting requirements if revenue is taxable.
Units wishing to impose or change a service fee must prepare a detailed justification and submit it through appropriate administrative channels. If approved, the proposal and justifications are forwarded to the SCRR. The SCRR will carefully evaluate the submitted justification and, if necessary, gather further information about the proposal. Prior to making a recommendation, the SCRR may consult with the proposing unit or appropriate office to clarify the proposal. In addition, the SCRR may contact groups likely to be impacted by the fee. Based upon the evaluation, a recommendation to approve or disapprove the fee or increased fee will be made to (1) the University of Kansas Comptroller or Assistant Comptroller for Financial Reporting Services: and (2) the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance.
Appropriate offices will also be consulted to ensure University compliance with Board of Regents policies on Public/Private competition, Unrelated Business Income Tax liability, and fees that require Board of Regents approval.
The department shall supply all pertinent accounting and cost information required to review the fee proposal; the SCRR’s responsibilities do not include costing out proposed fees.
The SCRR will work as expeditiously as possible, but departments should recognize the evaluation of fees is a complex process that may take considerable time. Approval by the Board of Regents may also be necessary, requiring other procedures at specific times of the year.
Further guidance regarding rate calculations using a cost recovery (break-even) methodology is available within the “Service Center and Recharge Center Fee Process and Procedures” guide.
- Consideration of the Proposal
The proposal for establishing a fee (or changing a fee) should present a clear and compelling argument for its implementation. As with service center fees, the concept of "cost recovery" should govern calculation of appropriate fees. Service fees should generally be set to recover the actual costs of providing the goods or services. Data should include, but not be limited to, the items listed below. Answers to the questions should be as full and precise as possible.
- How is this proposed service fee related to the instructional, research or public service mission of the University?
- Why is the fee being implemented or changed?
- Was this service/good previously provided?
- How was the amount of the fee determined? (Include specific calculations)
- What service/goods will be provided for that fee?
- How much money will the fee generate per year?
- How will the fee income be spent?
- Source of funds for capitalized start up costs?
- Who will be the likely customers and what is the anticipated fiscal impact on them?
- What is the overall benefit to the proposing unit?
- What is the cost/benefit to the University as a whole?
- Evaluation Standards
In general, the SCRR, Comptroller/Assistant Comptroller and the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance will look favorably on fees, which have the following features:
- The request is for an increase in an existing (approved) fee that is justified by increased cost of provision.
- The fee is for a service provided as part of the mission of the University but for which unusual costs are incurred. (i.e., field trips, recreational events, etc.)
- The service is a convenience to the customers and part of the University's academic, research or public service mission.
In general, the SCRR, Comptroller/Assistant Comptroller and the Vice Provost for Administration and Finance will look unfavorably on fees, which have the following features:
- The service provided for the fee is basic to the mission of the unit and University funds are provided for the service.
- The goods or services are provided by local businesses and are not central to the mission of the University.
See Background (above)
05/04/2016: Removed Evaluation Committee references.
4/1/2016: Fixed broken link to Board of Regents Policy Manual; updated to remove Service Center Evaluation Committee.
04/02/2015: Fixed broken link to Board of Regents Policy Manual.
12/16/2014: Fixed broken link to Board of Regents Policy Manual.
10/27/2014: Updated name of Watkins Health Services.
01/04/1994: First approved.