OSA answers call for fees transparency

The office presented a fact sheet in response to a GAPSA resolution.

Cali Owings

After inquiries from the chairwoman of the Student Services Fees Committee, the Office for Student Affairs has provided some answers justifying its use of student fees to fund the fees process.
The office allocated more than $97,000 in student fees in 2010 to pay for the costs of the fees process, including room rental, audits, stipends for committee members and partial salary for the fees adviser.
However, SSFC Chairwoman Megan Freeman expressed concerns that students did not have input regarding this use of their money. The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly also passed a resolution calling for the OSA to justify its expenses and provide documentation to the committee.
In response, the office prepared a fact sheet to answer many of the questions presented by the committee.
According to the fact sheet, the OSA has not presented the budget for review by the committee because it has been considered âÄúpart of the cost of maintaining a strong, student-driven processâÄù since 2004.
It also explains the large year-to-year carryover balances as the result of lower-than-anticipated audit costs. However, it said those carryovers will be reduced in upcoming years by an increase in salary costs and expected increases in the number of audits as more student groups apply for fees.
Fees adviser Megan Sweet said from the feedback she has received from student groups, more frequent audits would help students be more prepared to handle them. They are also exploring the option of audit trainings to help group officers understand what is needed to keep strong enough financial records to pass the audit. As an additional part of the fees process, audit trainings would also come out of the fees administration budget, she said.
The administration budget will begin to cover 75 percent of the fees adviserâÄôs salary beginning in 2012. The office feels this is necessary because of increased workload due to the appeals process and an increase in fees applications.
It also states that the office is willing to discuss student review of the budget in the future. Fees committee chairs will meet with the vice provost after the process is complete to discuss changes for next year.
However, there are some conflicts with student review of the OSA budget since the committee would then be involved in setting the budget for its own stipends.