Getting to know your student fees

Like it or not, college isn’t cheap, and university services for students aren’t either.

Like it or not, college isn’t cheap, and university services for students aren’t either. In addition to tuition costs, all students are responsible for paying student fees, which Portland State charges students to help fund its services. These fees are mandatory, but the amount you will be charged depends on the number of credits taken per term.

Here’s an allocation breakdown of the major student fees for in-state students taking 12 credits, as well as their everyday effects on you.

Instruction fee: $1,176 per term
Maybe you’re here for the chicks (or the dudes), or because your parents are pressuring you to go to school or, like most, you actually want to learn. Instruction fees get the educational ball rolling by paying—you guessed it—professors. A good way to make the most out of your instruction fees is by visiting your profs during office hours, asking what they mean by “postmodern.”

Instruction fees also fund the educational and general budget at PSU. This might be the most important of all fees, unless you’re here for the wrong reasons.

Building fee: $45 per term
If you like to spend most of your day smoking cigarettes or chatting with evangelical preachers while avoiding the inevitable reading for class, you may appreciate the value of building fees. Outside most buildings on campus and along the South Park Blocks are benches provided by you, the student. Enjoy rain in the fall, rain in the winter, rain in the spring, sun in the summer, and pesky canvassers year round on these seats.
Building fees also pay for classroom lighting and the maintenance of most PSU buildings and other property.

Technology fee: $87 per term
Whether you like it or loathe it, technology fees pay for very useful services. Not only does the technology fee provide each student with an online ODIN account granting access to one of the many on-campus computers, free email services and Wi-Fi access for laptops, but it lets students check grades, register for classes and pay tuition through the PSU information system. The information system is often (and more colloquially) referred to as Banweb, and can be accessed at

Several classes at PSU also make use of WebCT, an online learning supplement. Exercises, homework and communication with professors can be accessed here. Online classes use WebCT too, saving students the time and money getting to school, as well as the effort of putting on pants.

Incidental fee: $202 per term
This money is spent on a variety of student groups and organizations to supplement student life on campus. The fee funds student groups on campus including, but not limited to, the Table Tennis Club, the Queer Resource Center, the Dancer’s Club—even The Vanguard is paid for by incidental fees. Sports teams, from women’s basketball to football, are financed through incidental fees. The Student Fee Committee allocates funds to these groups, and they in turn spend it on things like paddles ($57.67), World AIDS Day postcards ($291.06), or dance competitions ($1,200).

PSU has over 100 student groups, any of which students can join.

Health service fee: $142 per term
Need a dental check-up? Want a flu shot? Can’t get a Boyz II Men song out your head? The solutions to these problems are found at the Student Health and Counseling Center, located conveniently next to the on-campus McDonalds (at the intersection of Southwest Sixth and Hall avenues).  Dentists, therapists and nurses at the health center are all at students’ disposal—so long as you’re taking nine or more credit hours.
Basic health insurance is a mandatory charge to any student taking nine or more credits hours. Any less than nine hours, and insurance isn’t a required payment, but that also means you aren’t eligible for any health-related university services. Students taking four to eight credits can choose to buy either basic or extended insurance coverage at the cashier’s office in the Neuberger Hall lobby.

Student Services Fee: $7.50 per term
This fee goes straight to the Student Affairs office, and funds student resources such as the Undergraduate Advising and Support Center. Tutoring is also made possible by the student services fee.