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Open Access Publications from the University of California

An Examination of Institutional Factors Related to the Use of Fees at Public Four-Year Universities

  • Author(s): Arnott, Alaine
  • et al.

Despite the plethora of data collected and analyzed about tuition as a primary cost of higher education, little to no attention has been paid to fees as a portion of that cost.  Most of the existing research, including reports from the National Center for Education Statistics, combines tuition and required fees into one entity, and rarely separates fees from tuition.  Framed by the theory of academic capitalism (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004), this analysis examines the use of required fees as part of the overall price of a higher education institution, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Further, factors related to internal pressures facing public institutions are correlated with the use of fees as a revenue generating strategy.  Findings suggest that sales and services of auxiliaries and gifts and government appropriations are positively related with the use of fees within the overall price of a higher education institution, indicating fees may be a result of universities participating in market-like behaviors.  Results indicate institutions may be using fees as a way to increase the cost of attendance without directly increasing list tuition.

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