One day in late January, the mailbox snaps shut with new bills. As a student files through the parcels, she comes upon a University of Wisconsin envelope containing an absurdly bright tuition bill. As she casually opens the bill this time, she’s shocked to see what seems to be an increase in her tuition that must be a recent addition. With a confused scoff, she remarks, “What are segregated fees?” Until recently, the delineation between student tuition and segregated fees, the mandatory charge that pays for University Health Services, the Wisconsin Union and various student groups, has been obscured on tuition bills, with both lumped together under one figure. However, starting with the next tuition bill, the difference will be made quite clear. A provision in the freshly signed state budget requires the University of Wisconsin System to clearly delineate segregated fees from tuition on tuition bills. In addition, UW must create a website that clearly explains what entities are funded by segregated fees, as well as the breakdown of nonallocable and allocable distributions. A web address to UW’s site will be printed on every tuition bill. This provision is important, especially considering the rising cost of this burdensome fee. This year UW tuition increased by $330 — around 5.5 percent — while segregated fees increased by approximately $140 — around 15 percent. Students most likely had no idea segregated fees went up during this time because unlike tuition increases, hikes in segregated fees are rarely explained or publicized. While students may be able to search the UW System or ASM websites and stumble upon an explanation for the $429 per semester fee, the information should be readily provided, rather than tucked away in rarely visited web pages. The fact that the student body has been left in the dark with regard to segregated fees is an absolute shame. While students are more likely to act on an issue if it directly affects them, segregated fees are largely absent from the campus radar. A clear explanation of segregated fees and how they impact student finances may finally wake up the student body and give the issue the proper attention it needs.
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