Information About the Student Technology Fee
History and Context of the Student Technology Fee Program
Q: How did the Student Technology Fee get started?
A: LSU students in the College of Engineering began to discuss a tech fee in 1996. Students from the Engineering Student Council visited Texas A & M, where a tech fee has long been in place. Its aim: to ensure that the learning environment for Aggie engineers is up-to-date and state-of-the-art. In a referendum, LSU engineering students voted overwhelmingly (with some 80% in favor) to establish a tech fee. In the spring of 1997, the Student Government Senate voted unanimously in a resolution endorsing the concept of a student technology fee.
Q: How did the tech fee idea get extended to the whole university?
A: Every student and every academic program today needs advanced technological support. Chancellor Jenkins recognized the need for enhanced technology to support student life and learning in all areas. He also faced a political obstacle. An amendment to the Louisiana Constitution, amendment 6, requires that any increase in fees be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. When the Chancellor and LSU student leaders explained to legislators LSU’s inability to provide all the technological support students need from current revenues, our lawmakers took the lead. Representative William Daniel introduced a bill into the 1997 Legislative Session authorizing state colleges and universities to assess technology fees of up to $5 per credit hour in order to provide technology and the supporting infrastructure to enhance student life and learning. The bill passed.
Q: Did LSU’s student body as a whole approve the Student Technology Fee?
A: Yes. The tech fee law passed by the legislature provided that universities could assess the fee provided it was approved by a two-thirds vote of the Student Government Senate and by the institution’s governing board. The Constitution of the LSU Student Government, however, requires a vote of the full student body for a student-assessed fee to be put into place. On March 4, 1998, the Student Government Senate unanimously passed a bill endorsing the proposed student technology fee and putting it on the ballot for a vote by all students. On April 8, 1998, the student body voted in a referendum and approved the Student Technology Fee at $5 per credit hour to be capped at $75 per semester. The student vote also approved the Student Technology Fee Plan.
Q: Why should students foot the bill for technology enhancements? Shouldn’t the state be funding these?
A: LSU’s operating funds are far lower than those of any of the ten Southern peer institutions selected for it by the state for comparative purposes. It is estimated that for 2001-2002, LSU will be funded approximately $85 million below the average funding for its ten designated peer universities. Chances are slim at best that LSU’s funding can quickly be brought up to where it should be. The simple truth is that students really need the additional technology the tech fee will give them, and there’s no other way to do it.
Q: How much money does the Tech Fee generate?
A: Currently the fee generates a little over $4 million per year.
Q: Who controls how the funds are spent?
A: The Student Technology Fee is administered by students. Indeed, never before have students been given such a direct role in the administration of a major University-wide program. To develop a plan for the Student Technology Fee, Chancellor Jenkins appointed a committee of six students and four administrators and faculty members: the President of the Student Government, the Speaker of the Student Government Senate, the President of the Graduate Student Association, three more students appointed by the President of the Student Government, plus the Provost, the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Services, the Executive Director of Computing Services, and the President of the Faculty Senate or his/her designee. That committee developed the Student Technology Fee Plan, which provides for administration of the program by an Oversight Committee with the same composition. The Oversight Committee can’t do business without a solid majority of students.
Q: Do the other public colleges and universities in Louisiana have technology fees?
A: Yes. All of the four-year public institutions have technology fees.
Q: What about out-of-state schools? Do they have tech fees, and how much are they?
A: Many other public universities in other states are already using student technology fees to give their students an edge in learning and in getting ready for the workplaces of the twenty-first century. Texas A & M has already been mentioned. The LSU engineering students who visited A&M found all students there paying a technology fee per credit hour up to a maximum of $180 per year (with additional tech fee requirements for engineering students). At the University of Tennessee, students pay $200 per academic year as a technology fee. At NC State, the student technology fee is $230 per academic year. These are just a few examples.
Operation of the Student Technology Fee Program
Q: What kinds of expenditures are allowable from the Student Technology Fee?
A: The Student Technology Fee Plan provides for three major areas of expenditure. Under the rubric of "Public Access Computing," the fee funds public access computer labs across the campus from CEBA to Middleton Library. The second area of expenditure is the equipping of general classroom spaces with multimedia equipment. It is the goal of the Student Technology Fee Program to equip no less than fifty percent of LSU’s general use classrooms with such equipment for instructional use. The final major area of expenditure is for discipline-specific equipment proposed by academic programs across campus. Discipline specific projects aim to ensure that instructional laboratories and studios across campus are equipped with the most current equipment appropriate to teaching and learning in the various disciplines of the University.
Q: Where are the Public Access labs currently funded by the Student Technology Fee?
A: The Student Technology Fee maintains equipment and support in public access labs in the following locations across campus: Art 106, CEBA 1302, CEBA Reading Room, Coates 263, Horticulture 255, Laville Cyber Café, Middleton 101, Middleton 141, Middleton 241, New Design Building 311, Pentagon Cyber Café, Union 332, and Williams 3rd Floor.
Q: How would I appeal to the Student Technology Fee Program for a discipline specific project?
A: Academic units may make requests for discipline specific projects the February prior to the fiscal year during which the proposed expenditure would occur. The Student Technology Fee Oversight Committee meets and begins appropriating funds in March. To make an appeal to the Student Technology Fee Program to fund a discipline specific, one should follow the guidelines found in How to Submit Proposals on the Student Technology Fee web site to author a proposal and submit it to the Student Technology Fee Oversight Committee.
Q: How does the Student Technology Fee Oversight Committee decide which discipline specific proposals to fund?
A: The Student Technology Fee Oversight Committee scores proposals based on the guidelines outlined in Evaluative Criteria for Discipline Specific Projects. The scores generated by the committee serve to begin the process of selecting the projects to be funded during that fiscal year.
Q: What percentage of discipline specific projects are funded each year?
A: Because funds are limited, generally only one out of every three discipline specific projects is funded each year. It is a sad reality that many good project ideas do not receive funding from the technology fee; however, authors of proposals that are not funded initially are encouraged to resubmit proposals the following year if a need still exists.
Q: Does the Student Technology Fee represent the only funds being invested in technology at LSU?
A: No. Though it is true that the Student Technology Fee Program plays a vital role in providing state of the art technology for student use at LSU, it is not the only investor in technology on campus. The Student Technology Fee Plan establishes the fee "to enhance, not replace." Indeed, the University continues to invest "non-Technology Fee" resources in technology and technology support across campus for students, faculty, and staff.
If you have any other questions about the Student Technology Fee Program, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.