Are students getting their money’s worth?

By Claudia Ugbana and Kourtney Husnick

Cleveland State University charges students a general fee of $55.40 per credit hour, totalling to approximately $664.80 per semester as part of full-time tuition. Past the breakdown of the default tuition rate, a variety of fees are added later, some of which students do not utilize or understand what they are being charged for. 

According to the 2018-19 budget book, the university generated a total of $23,189,704 in revenue for the general fee budget last year. In the university budget books, this fee category is broken down into student affairs, academic affairs, athletics and other revenue and expenses such as athletics fees.

With the semester halfway over, we decided to go over these costs for students to understand how they may or may not be utilizing tuition costs.


Students are charged an extra $3 per credit hour, funding athletic programs, excursions, salaries and games poorly attended by the general population of Cleveland State students.                                                                                                                                             Of the general fee budget, about 51% of the money is allocated towards athletics. It brings students’ fees to approximately $375 per semester ($750 per year) in athletic fees, at a minimum, for full-time students. Men’s and women’s basketball incur the most expenses out of all athletic programs here at Cleveland State, with students individually paying $89 per year towards men’s basketball and $71 per year towards women’s basketball.

The athletics department also attempts to generate revenue through ticket sales to the general public. However, ticket sales are only attempted for four of the 18 NCAA Division I sports offered at Cleveland State. With that in mind, a member of the general public could attend every single ticketed home game for between $250-400 cheaper than what students pay for athletics in fees, depending on the seating choice for men’s basketball tickets. 

The majority of athletic revenue then depends on student tuition, with most of the students being unaware or disinterested in attending college sports, according to a poll The Cauldron conducted earlier in the semester. 

The university only has about 400 student athletes, according to Harlan Sands, Cleveland State’s president. This is about 2% of the general population of students currently enrolled at the university.  

“I think it adds a unique element to the entire student body experience,” Sands said. “Now, I fully realize that not all students choose to participate or be a part of the athletic experience, but it’s an important part of the overall student experience.”

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 6.00.12 PM
This graph illustrates how many games students would have to attend for each individual sport per year (if they only attended one type of sport), to make up for the athletics fees each student pays.

Student Organizations

Student organization expenses can be broken into a variety of costs in the general fee budget on an annual basis. Funding stems directly from the general fee budget for organizations considered to be a General Fee Unit (GFU) or from the allocating budget of the Student Government Association (SGA) for student organizations with non-GFU status. 

While SGA had just shy of $270,000 to allocate to other student organizations last year according to the university’s budget book, the Student Affairs portion of the budget totaled out to about $1.6 million. 

That $1.6 million pool is split between 11 GFUs — including SGA, The Cauldron and Viking Expeditions — as well as a range of Student Life services. 

The Campus Activities Board (CAB), the GFU which primarily organizes social, cultural and educational events at Cleveland State, received a budget that reflected a total of $161,745, or about $9 per student for the year. CAB hosts about 50 events per semester, according to Cleveland State’s website. They are required to host at least 20 each semester to maintain GFU status, according to the General Fee Advisory Committee (GFAC) bylaws. 

Cleveland State’s media organizations also receive a portion of that funding. Broken down to an annual expense, students paid approximately $2.68 for The Vindicator, $3.24 for the WCSB radio station, $1.19 for The Gavel and $0.74 for Whiskey Island last year. Students are paying $3.08 for The Cauldron for the 2019-2020 academic year. 



Outside fees tied into tuition, commuter students face the extra expense of parking passes or daily parking fees when choosing to drive to campus. 

The university offers students two parking permit options, a pay-as-you-go option ranging between $48-800 for anywhere between 2-9+ hours per day, or parking permit options — which most commuting students pay, ranging between $165-262 per semester, for a variety of permit types.

Parking was set to profit approximately $1.6 million after expenses in the 2018-19 academic year, according to last year’s budget book. 

However, there are still a variety of issues students face with on-campus parking on a day-to-day basis. Spacing issues and ticketing issues are just some of those problems students have historically had problems with, as well as the high costs for those parking permits.

According to the university’s website, the white and green parking passes are valid daily for students in their designated parking locations from 5:00 a.m. to midnight. Students who wish to park overnight, from midnight to 4:59 a.m., are required to pay an additional $100 fee, with students who live on campus automatically being charged more when they purchase their parking passes.

Comparison chart

As most students are well aware, the expense of obtaining any level of higher education adds up quickly. From the instructional fee that makes up the largest portion of tuition to the technology fee, it is not always easy for students to follow where their money goes. 

Whether students choose to attend sporting events, read the newspaper, join a club or attend the next CAB event, everyone is still paying for it. The general fee alone is $1,329 per academic year for full-time students. 

Let us know on Twitter @csucauldron: Do you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth?