UCDC Policy on Assessing Course, Lab & Program Fees

Through the annual budget cycle Dearborn campus units receive general fund resources to support educational costs including faculty & staff salaries, student services, infrastructures costs, information technology costs, library costs, and other activities which directly support instructional activities across campus. These resources are generated through the assessment of mandatory tuition, course premiums, and fees as approved by the University of Michigan Regents and paid by students enrolled at the Dearborn campus.

There are times, however, when there are extraordinary costs associated with delivering instruction or offering specific educational experiences, occurring either on or off campus, which generate costs above and beyond those funded by mandatory tuition, course premiums, and fees.  The purpose of this policy is to explain why these extraordinary costs may arise and to provide transparency to students, and the campus community, of how these costs are calculated, assessed, approved, and managed on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.

Units may recover these extraordinary costs through the implementation of a course, lab, or program fee for either on-campus/off-campus or for-credit/not-for-credit educational activities.  A campus unit with extraordinary costs, at the course or program level, may levy a course, lab, or program fee by clearly documenting the extraordinary costs directly attributable to the student participant and ensuring the fee is reviewed and approved by the appropriate campus department(s) or committee(s).  

Definition #1:  Course & laboratory (lab) fees supplementing on-campus, for-credit instruction

Course and lab fees may be appropriate when there are documented extraordinary, non-routine costs for consumables, materials, services, or external activity fees used exclusively in the classroom and supporting on-campus, for-credit  instruction. The necessity for a course/lab fee should be first evaluated at the course level prior to requesting that 1) a new course or lab fee be assigned to a course, or 2) an existing fee be increased, decreased or withdrawn from a course.  A course or laboratory fee may be assessed per course credit hour or may also be a flat fee per enrolled student.

Examples of extraordinary, marginal costs which may be included in a course or lab fee include:

  1. Materials, supplies, devices, or equipment fully consumed within the course and materials and supplies not easily obtained through local retail vendors and fully consumed within the course;
  2. Printed materials, licensing, or copyright fees;
  3. Goods that are retained by the student once the course is completed (videos, references materials, software);
  4. Maintenance and repair of equipment or devices used exclusively for classroom purposes and not funded by mandatory tuition, course premiums or fees;
  5. Admission, entry fees, or participation costs for local out-of-classroom experiences;
  6. Related travel costs to local off-campus out-of-classroom experiences.

Examples of costs that may not be charged through a course or lab fee:

  1. Regular instructional costs for on-campus learning, including faculty or staff compensation;
  2. Facilities or information technology infrastructure;
  3. Academic program support for on-campus instruction;
  4. Department administration or operating overhead (example: telephones, lights, copier leases);
  5. Normal, incidental costs associated with offering classes (examples: photocopies, office or computer equipment, research equipment not consumed within the semester).

The examples above of allowable and excluded costs are not exhaustive of all possible costs which may be included or excluded when calculating the costs associated with a course or lab fee.  Units should contact Financial Services or the current chair of the University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC) if questions arise on allowable or unallowable costs, and for assistance with calculating accurate and comprehensive course or lab fee rates.

Definition #2:  Program fees supplementing on-campus, for-credit instruction

Campus units may need to recover extraordinary costs to support educational models specific to a field of study, particularly at the graduate level.  A program fee may developed when the program:(a) has costs which accrue directly to the program, (b) costs which span a substantial portion of the program’s curriculum, and (c) is appropriate to assess only to students receiving a direct benefit from the program.  The fee may be assessed by course credit hour or as a flat fee per enrolled student.

Examples of allowable costs which may be included in an on-campus, for-credit program fee include:

  1. Materials, supplies, devices, or equipment fully consumed within the course and materials and supplies not easily obtained through local vendors;
  2. Printed materials, licensing, or copyright fees;
  3. Goods that are retained by the student once the course is completed (videos, references materials, software).

The examples above of allowable costs are not exhaustive of all possible costs which may be included when calculating the costs associated with an on-campus, for-credit program fee. Units should contact Financial Services or the current chair of the University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC) if they have questions when determining and calculating allowable or unallowable costs in a program fee.

Definition #3:  Program fees supporting off-campus educational opportunities

Campus units offering off-campus educational opportunities, either for-credit or not-for-credit, may elect to assess a program fee to fund any extraordinary costs directly related to individual student participation that are not already funded by mandatory tuition, course premiums, and fees.  The program fee may support activities such as domestic (not local) travel, travel abroad, clinical placements, internships, service learning, or student research projects.  Any program fee supporting travel outside the United States must also comply with costs detailed in SPG 601.31, International Travel. This fee is usually assessed as a flat fee per participant.

Examples of allowable costs which may be included in an off-campus program fee include:

  1. Materials, supplies, devices, or equipment fully consumed within the course and materials and supplies not easily obtained through local retail vendors;
  2. Printed materials, licensing, or copyright fees;
  3. Goods that are retained by the student once the course is completed (videos, references materials, software);
  4. Admission, entry fees, or participation costs for local out-of-classroom experiences;
  5. Classroom, facility, and information technology resources consumed at a host location;
  6. Travel costs for excursions, field visits, entrance fees that are part of the educational program
  7. UM-Dearborn faculty or instructor travel, accommodations, and/or meals;
  8. UM-Dearborn staff travel, accommodation, and/or meals for direct supervision or logistical support;
  9. Stipends for local staff for program supervision, to direct travel activities, or provide logistical support;
  10. Host institution provider fees for non-instructional items and services;
  11. Pre-departure orientation programming, materials, and hosting costs;
  12. On-site orientation programming, materials, and hosting costs;
  13. Student transportation to and from the program location;
  14. Student accommodations at the host location or locations;
  15. Hosting group meals that are required during the program;
  16. On-site transportation;
  17. Required UM travel insurance for international travel;
  18. Currency conversion costs and/or wire transfer fees for international travel.

Examples of costs that may not be included in an off-campus, educational program:

  1. Costs for companions or dependents of employees or instructors;
  2. Costs for regular staff who are on-site for the program;
  3. Costs or reimbursements of regular faculty or staff compensation expenses or supplemental stipends;
  4. Department administration or operating overhead (example: telephones, lights, copier leases).

The examples above of allowable and unallowable costs are not exhaustive of all possible costs that may be included or excluded when calculating the costs associated with an off-campus program fee. Units should contact Financial Services or the current chair of the University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC) if questions arise on allowable or unallowable costs, and for assistance with calculating accurate program fee costs.

Fee review and approval process

Course, lab, and UM Unit sponsored program fees supporting on-campus, for-credit instruction should follow the approval process outlined by their unit’s curriculum committee and the University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC). Course Approval Forms are available on the UCDC web page.  After approval by UCDC, course,  lab and/or program fees will be added to the course schedule, the course catalog, and assessed on the student’s account by the Office of the Registrar.  

It is each unit’s responsibility to review, at least annually, all course and program fees levied by the unit per this policy.  All Units are expected to regularly review fees, update existing fees, and/or rescind fees no longer fulfill their original purpose and send such change to UCDC for approval.  Reports of active course/lab fees will be provided annually by Financial Services to campus units to aid with this review.

Program fees supporting off-campus educational opportunities should be developed, reviewed and approved first by the Unit’s Senior Officer and business manager.  Financial Services and Student Accounts should be consulted to ensure the program fee covers all incurred costs and is well documented. The program fee will be assessed on student accounts if it sponsored by UM unit (non-catalog). The Senior Director of Financial Services will also consult with the current chair of the University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC), if necessary, for clarification, and provide support to ensure the program fee is recorded in a timely and accurate manner on the student’s account when applicable.

Administration and oversight

Any unit currently assessing or planning to assess a new course, lab, or program fee is responsible for the ensuring existing and new fees comply with this policy with the understanding that fees may be audited at any time by Internal Audits or Dearborn campus leadership. Units are strongly urged to consult with their senior officer and/or budget administrator, as well as the current chair of UCDC and Financial Services prior to proposing, increasing, decreasing or rescinding a fee. Units should also have in place written procedures documenting how fees are calculated, reviewed, tracked, and approved within their unit.

Course, lab fees, and UM Unit sponsored program fees should be billed directly to UM student accounts. This will ensure that students are able to fully utilize their financial aid resources to pay for such fees and applicable fees are properly reported by the University on the student’s 1098-T for Qualified Tuition and Related Expenses.  Units should understand that fees may be partially paid or completely dropped if students withdraw from courses within the University's withdrawal deadlines. Units should work directly with Financial Services and Student Accounts to manage these circumstances and when exceptions should be made to assessing and paying for course, lab, and/or program fees.

Temporary/interim course/laboratory or program fee changes

At times campus units may need to temporarily increase or decrease a UCDC approved course/lab or program fee when there is a significant change in program scheduling or course modality which affects the extraordinary costs associated with delivering course instruction or offering specific educational experiences.

In these situations, campus units may temporarily increase or decrease a course/laboratory or program fee for a specific semester or for an academic year (Fall/Winter semesters).  

Units should first utilize their unit’s curriculum committee process to evaluate the extraordinary costs of instruction to ensure the change in the fee is appropriate for the course/program.  Once approved by the unit’s curriculum committee the unit representative to UCDC should notify the UCDC Chair, via email, of the necessary changes in fee(s) and the duration of the change(s) for each course or program.  

After approval by UCDC, the interim course, lab and/or program fees will be temporarily added to the course schedule, the course catalog, and assessed on the student’s account by the Office of the Registrar.  Interim fees will automatically revert to their original, approved amount once the requested time period has expired, unless a new request is received by UCDC to extend the interim fee.

  • Date First Issued: September 10, 2015
  • Date Revised: July 30, 2020
  • Next Review Date: July 1, 2021
  • Owner: University Curriculum and Degree Committee (UCDC), Dearborn campus
  • Related Policy: UM-Ann Arbor SPG 601.39 Student Tuition and Fees (August 1, 2019)