10 surprising college fees you may have to pay
College Fees Add Up
While most people think of the rising cost of college as tied to tuition, that's not the only charge to go up. School-related fees are being tacked on to raise additional revenue to fund academic and non-academic pursuits, experts say.
In some cases, college advisers say families may have to pay hundreds of dollars to more than $1,000 in additional college fees each semester, depending on the school. Here are 10 college fees that you may be asked to pay.
1. Orientation Fees
Orientation fees are typically due during registration for first-time, incoming students and sometimes involve attending a special preregistration session. The cost for this type of fee ranges – depending on the school – from as little as $50 to up to $300 at some institutions.
Florida Memorial University and the University of North Carolina—Asheville, to name a couple of schools, charged incoming students a $150 orientation fee in fall 2016.
2. Freshman Fee
Some schools charge a freshman fee, which is usually separate from an orientation fee.
The University of Arizona, as an example, bills its freshmen $10 a semester to cover first-year student support programs and services.
3. Campus Fees
Sometimes schools charge these extra costs under a lump item, billed as a campus fee, says Alicia Stewart, a college counselor at IvyWise, a New York City-based college advising firm.
"They're called different things – they might be called a 'campus fee,' and that's just covering campus maintenance or access to campus buildings," she says.
4. Commencement Fees
A student may need to pay a commencement fee, or graduation fee, to participate in the school's ceremony. Some schools, such as the University of Massachusetts—Amherst, automatically charge the fee to students who are in the first semester of their senior year.
5. Lab Fees
Sometimes a class comes with an added expense during registration: a lab fee. These fees typically vary, depending on the type of course. A lab fee for a biology course might be used to pay for microscope repairs, slides and petri dishes.
Experts say lab fees – especially for science courses – such as chemistry or engineering, typically cost around $150.
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6. Environment Fees
While usually nominal in price, some schools tack on environmental fees. At the University of California—Los Angeles, students are charged annually for the school's green initiative fee; the cost for that fee in 2016-2017 was $14.40.
But UCLA isn't the only school to charge this extra cost, the University of Texas—Austin, charges students $5 a semester for its "green fee," which is aimed to advance projects that promote sustainability around its campus.
7. Campus Spirit Fee
While some schools charge fees that support athletic programs under an athletic or campus fee, some schools bill this item under a different name. Every year, at the University of California—Irvine, students pay a "campus spirit fee." For the 2016-2017 school year, the school billed students $99 for this expense.
The fee is required of all undergraduate students and is used to support athletic and campus spirit programs on campus, according to the school's website.
8. Tech Fees
Computer labs and campus-wide Wi-Fi are resources and services provided at many colleges and universities.
"Most schools will have a tech or a computer fee that's for accessing Wi-Fi," says Stewart from IvyWise. But there is an upside, "sometimes you can get free copies when you use their centers."
9. Transportation Fees
Some college and universities offer their students shuttle buses for traveling around campus, and this fee varies among schools.
At the University of Central Florida, a $9.10 transportation fee is tacked on for every credit hour a student takes. So a student with a 15-hour course load would pay $136.50 in transportation access charges. Other schools bill this fee in one lump. The University of Akron, as an example, charges students $175 each semester.
10. Athletic Fees
At some schools, the athletic fee isn't charged under the campus fee and is billed separately, experts say.
At the University of Virginia, students were billed $657 annually in 2015-2016 for athletics on top of a $418 mandatory fee for recreational facilities. College advisers say schools will find one way or another through fees or tuition to pay for their costs.
More About Paying for College
The search to learn more about college costs shouldn't end here. Access our paying for college section to explore more ways to finance higher education.
Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report