ASI pushes for a student fee increase

Juan Carlos Lara, Campus News Editor

Fees are an intrinsic part of any college student’s life, from the time they apply to colleges and pay application fees until they prepare to leave and pay a graduation fee. Students at SF State currently pay $762 in mandatory fees at the start of every fall and spring semester. 

When students tap their ID cards on Muni busses, their fare is paid through a $180 Gator Pass fee. Every student that enjoys going to Mashouf to swim laps, lift weights, or take a Zumba class can do so thanks to a $166 Recreation and Wellness Center fee. Students can receive up to three counseling sessions per semester at Counseling and Psychological Services, funded in part by a $157 Student Health Services fee. The comfortable chairs in the lower level of the Student Center where students frequently fall asleep are maintained by a $82 fee. Students also pay $54 to fund Associated Student Inc. (ASI), the nonprofit run by the student government responsible for funding student services and organizations.

Those last two fees, the Student Body Association and Student Body Center fees, may be going up in the coming years. During a board of directors meeting on Oct. 30, the board voted unanimously to authorize the Vice President of Finance, Andrew Carillo, to begin the process of proposing a fee increase, although the exact fee increase amount has not yet been determined. This proposal would then become a referendum, which students would vote on during the Spring 2021 semester, according to Carillo. 

“It’s definitely not something I could solve in one year. What I’m doing this year is really outlining it,” Carillo said. ”One thing I plan on doing next semester is really trying to get a feel of what the students want from AS. What other services do you want us to provide? Are you aware of the services AS currently provides?” 

Horace Montgomery, Interim Executive Director of ASI, warned that if fees do not increase in the next few years, ASI may begin to see a budget deficit, where they are spending more money than they are making. 

Carillo and Montomery both pointed out that SF State currently has the lowest Associated Student fee of all CSUs.

According to Carillo, if the fee is not increased soon, student services may be cut to avoid a deficit.

However, some of these cuts may have already begun. Between 2015 and 2018, ASI decreased expenses relating to student services by over $1.5 million, according to audit reports published on the ASI website.  

In that same time frame, ASI increased funding for student government by roughly $109,000. This increase is the result of a move by the board of directors  to increase the stipend they pay student board members, according to Montgomery. The board consists of mostly students with a few full time ASI and SF State staff, and student terms last one year, meaning the board members at the time most likely did not personally benefit from this increase.

Over the last four years, ASI has averaged a net unrestricted revenue of approximately $1.2 million yearly, according to external audit reports. Net revenue means the amount left over when total expenses are subtracted from the total revenue. Unrestricted revenue refers to funds that are not automatically designated for any specific causes. 

Montgomery contends that increasing costs are an inevitable part of long term business maintenance, citing the fact that fees for ASI have not increased in 15 years.