Approval and Budgetary Review of Elective Student Fees and Other Special Fees

Type of Policy: 
Policy Owner: 
Budget, Planning and Administration
Contact Name: 
Barbara Villa
Contact Title: 
Budget Manager
Contact Email:
Reason for Policy: 

Policy Objective
Approval by the President of Georgia Institute of Technology is required for all elective fees and special charges per the Board of Regents (BOR) policy included as an appendix to this document. The purposes of Georgia Institute of Technology’s elective fees and other special fee approval policy are to:

  • Provide a consistent approach to approval and treatment of fees and
  • Ensure that students are not burdened with costs that should be covered by tuition or state funds.
Policy Statement: 

General Policy Provisions
In general, departments are expected to cover normal instructional costs within their general operations budget, and elective fees and other charges should be needed only in exceptional situations. The financial needs of the department or school must be weighed against the impact of the fees on students and also the costs of administering the fees (assessment and collection). Fees must be used to augment, rather than replace general budgeted funds for departmental instructional costs.

Board of Regent approval is required for any fee or charge that is mandatory for all full-time undergraduate students or all undergraduate students in a specific degree program. All other elective fees will continue to be approved by USG presidents.

Increases in these fees should be kept moderate and gradual. Fees approved under this policy must be reviewed by the Bursar's Office to determine the most appropriate way to assess and collect these fees. Fees approved under this policy will be administered and collected directly by the Bursar Office. All new fees and increases to existing fees must be approved by the President, and when approved, will be implemented in the following academic year.

The following are examples of what may be funded through elective fees and special charges:

  • Cost of providing course materials to be consumed, retained or used by the student
  • Special costs associated with the use of University-owned tools and equipment for extracurricular or out-of-class learning activities
  • Cost of other materials or services necessary to provide a special supplemental educational experience of direct benefit to the student
  • Doctoral binding fee
  • Transcript fees

This policy specifically excludes the following cost items to be paid through fees:

  • Salaries, wages, and employee benefits of support personnel (including honoraria)
  • Instructional equipment located and utilized in classrooms and labs primarily during scheduled periods of instruction
  • Reproduction of copyrighted materials
    See the BOR website for a summary of copyright policy: (
  • Course syllabi

Establishment of New Elective Fees and Special Charges

All elective fees and special charges must conform to stated Georgia Tech policy. Departments may not assess and collect course-related fees that the President has not approved under the policy.

The Provost’s Office, Office of Budget Planning and Administration (“Budget Office”), and Bursar’s Office are responsible for applying the policy and ensuring adequate campus oversight of all fees. This responsibility includes review of fee proposals, review of the costing and proposed fee levels, and the appropriate distribution of collected fees.

  1. Review Process
    All requests to establish a new elective fee/special charge or an adjustment to an existing fee must follow these review procedures and be approved by the President. These requests will be reviewed annually in January for implementation during the following academic year. Separate fee requests are not required for courses taught during the summer if they have already been approved for fall and spring. The approved fee is automatically assessed during the summer if the course is offered under the same course number and course description.
  2. Allowable Costs
    When proposing new fees, departments must follow the following guidelines:
    • Departments must apply a test of reasonableness to ensure that funding has not already been provided to the department or school through other fund sources, such as current state or tuition funds.
    • Guidelines for the types of items that may be included in the fee are listed in Section II. Only direct costs (not overhead/indirect costs) may be included in the computation of the fee, and departments must fully and accurately document the cost of supplies, consumables, and support services associated with each elective fee.
    • Each proposed fee must provide course-specific cost information.
    • If equipment is included in the fee, the cost of the equipment must be allocated over the useful life of the equipment and cannot be fully expensed in the year of acquisition. For the calculation of course materials fees, “equipment” is considered to be tangible property having a useful life of more than one year.
    • If the fee is to be assessed for a course during the summer as well as the academic year, the expected costs and income associated with the summer session should be included in the calculation of the overall fee. Alternatively, departments may request a different fee for the summer.
  3. Designation and Collection of Elective Fees and Special Charges Revenue
    Each fee will be established in the student fee fund/account/project range.

    All approved course fees will be assessed through Banner (student system) to all students enrolled in specific course at the time of registration. The published tuition and fee deadlines for each term will be in effect for these type fees. For all other type fee approvals, a review will be made by the Bursar’s Office to determine the most appropriate method for assessment and subsequent collection. These fees will generally be due at the time of assessment.
  4. Utilization of Elective Fee Revenue
    Revenue from each individual elective fee and special charges must be expended only for costs that were specified in the calculation of the approved fee. Revenue cannot be used for other costs, and should not be used as a profit generating mechanism.
  5. Proposal Format and Submission
    Forms for requesting new fees and increases to existing fees are available in Excel format on the Budget Office’s website (Elective Fee Form) and examples are included as Appendices 2 and 3 to this policy. The forms include a cost table that must be completed to identify specific costs covered by the fee and to show the basis of the proposed fee level. Completed proposals, reviewed and signed by the appropriate department head and dean/division head, should be submitted by December 15 to the Provost’s Office of Financial Administration. Off-cycle proposals will be considered in special circumstances. Following the Provost Office’s review, the Budget Office and Bursar’s Office will review the proposal prior to submission to the President. The Bursar’s Office will review and include a recommendation for the assessment and collection of the fee. Only fees approved by the President should be assessed to students. Once approved, new or increased fees will be implemented in the following academic year.

Requests for Elective Fee Increase/Decrease
Requests for increases in approved elective fees will follow the same procedures and policies as the establishment of new fees. Requests for elimination or decreases of existing elective fees, or application of the fee following a minor change in the course number or description, will be handled administratively by the appropriate college/unit. Notification should be sent to the Budget Office and Bursar’s Office when fees are reduced or eliminated.

Appendix 1

University System of Georgia, Board of Regents Policy Elective Fees and Special Charges
Other Elective Fees and Special Charges

Institution presidents are authorized to approve elective fees and special charges as outlined below. However, any fee or special charge that is required to be paid by all fulltime, undergraduate students at the institution or by all undergraduate students in a specific degree program, with the exception of specific course fees for supplementary costs, shall be approved by the Board. Other elective fees and special charges are defined as those fees and charges that are paid selectively by students. These fees and charges may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Resident hall deposits;
  2. Penalty charges;
  3. Non-mandatory parking fees and parking fines;
  4. Library fines;
  5. Laboratory fees;
  6. Post office box rentals; and
  7. Course fees to cover supplementary costs for specific courses, such as art materials, course

packets/kits, software/videos, and special equipment (BoR Minutes, January 2010). Institutional presidents are authorized to establish and adjust these fees, as appropriate. Prior to implementation of such fees, institutions shall be required to report to the Chancellor any establishments and adjustments made thereto under procedures established by the USG chief fiscal officer (BoR Minutes, January 2010).

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