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Student Fee Board Approves $9.75 Mental Health Fee Allocation

Update: Shortly after the Student Fee Board meeting ended, UPUA President Terry Ford released a letter to the student body explaining the new fee allocation and the funding from President Barron’s office.

“Our collective ability to promote the welfare of Penn State and her students would be nonexistent if it were not for the generations of students who were, and remain, passionate about this issue,” Ford wrote. “The mental healthcare funding crisis may be over, but our efforts to promote awareness and change the perceptions surrounding mental health do not end here.”

You can read Ford’s letter in full here.

Original Story: The Student Fee Board met for the second time this morning in Old Main to unanimously approve its first student fee allocation —  $9.75 of the Student Initiated Fee will be earmarked for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

This fee allocation will create $804,813.75 in revenue for CAPS in addition to the $705,000 contribution President Barron’s office confirmed yesterday. $215,000 of Barron’s contribution will be available for University Park CAPS beginning July 1, 2017 and the contribution will increase to $415,000 annually beginning July 1, 2018.

CAPS originally proposed a $15 fee allocation to the board, which would have drawn $1,238,175 total for CAPS. However, this budget did not include contributions from the Office of the President. With the $9.75 fee allocation combined with Barron’s contributions available in 2017, CAPS will receive an additional $1,019,813.75 each year, or about 82 percent of the proposed amount.

In considering potential fee amounts, the Board also discussed the likelihood of reducing the facilities portion of the Student Initiated Fee. Although next year’s Facilities Fee was slated to bring in $10.2 million, Penn State Vice President for Finance and Business David Gray told the Board there was a comfortable $750,000 window the amount could be reduced. Assuming steady enrollment numbers, this could bring down each student’s annual fee by about $9. Applying this $9 “swing” if you will, the average student’s annual fee dollars will increase by just $.75 to fund CAPS.

The Board also heard presentations from organizations like Child Care Services, the Council of Lionhearts, and the Student Sustainability Advisory Committee. Here’s what you should know about each proposal.

Student Parent Child Care Subsidy Program

Child Care Services helps student parents by subsidizing 75 percent of childcare expenses. It’s currently funded by the student activity fee via the University Park Allocation Committee (UPAC), but will now be considered by the Student Fee Board because it’s a service, not an activity-related expense. This proposal requests $5 per student annually, providing about $206,362 for the service. The Board passed this proposal unanimously.

Student Sustainability Advisory Committee (“Green Fee”)

The Student Sustainability Advisory Committee proposed a $10 per student annual ‘Green Fee’ to be used specifically for sustainability projects on campus. This fee would be used for student projects related to sustainability. Due to the vague nature of projects that could be funded through this proposal, the Student Fee Board requested additional information and will postpone any voting on this allocation until further notice.

Council of Lionhearts

The Council of Lionhearts, a university affiliate comprised of several student community service organizations, is requesting $10,000 to assist in transporting student volunteers to community service locations. This opens a discussion on standing allocation jurisdiction between UPAC and the Student Fee Board based the provisions explained in the Student Fee Board handbook.

UPUA President Terry Ford explained the Board will need to work with UPAC to decide how exactly to proceed with standing allocations. Allocation proposals have not yet been approved for the 2017-2018 school year from the Center for Women Students, the LGBTQA Student Resource Center, Homecoming, the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, the Center for Performing Arts, and the Bryce Jordan Center.

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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