Elective Fees and Special Charges Approval and Budget Review Policy

Elective Fees and Special Charges Approval and Budget Review Policy
Type of Policy
jbarber32 Mon, 07/09/2012 - 14:12
Effective Date
Last Revised
Review Date
Policy Owner
Budget, Planning and Administration
Contact Name
Justin White
Contact Title
Budget Program Manager
Contact Email
Reason for Policy

The purpose of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Elective Fees and Special Charges policy is to:

  • Ensure Georgia Tech meets the requirements of BOR Policy for establishing and managing elective fees and special charges;
  • Provide guidance and consistency for the approval and management of the fees/charges;
  • Ensure students are not burdened with costs that should be covered by tuition or state funds;
  • Inform the Georgia Tech community about the review and approval process requirements.
Policy Statement

Major Categories of Fees.  Georgia Tech levies the following two major types of fees:

  • Other Elective Fees and Special Charges – fees and charges that are paid selectively by students;
  • Mandatory Fees – fees that are assessed to all students, all undergraduate students, or all full-time undergraduate students on one or more campuses. These fees are NOT governed by this policy.  See the following Institute policy: Mandatory Student Fee and Budget Review

Review and Approval Process.  Approval by the President of Georgia Tech is required for all elective fees and special charges per the Board of Regents (BOR) policy but Georgia Tech must annually report to the Chancellor any new fees or adjustments to existing fees. All fee changes are implemented in the following academic year, beginning with the fall semester. The following are four exceptions to the president’s autonomous approval authority:

Fees for All Students in a Grade Level – approval by the BOR, following the same approval process as for mandatory student fees, of any fee or special charge that is required to be paid by any subgroup of students categorized solely by grade level or previous credit hours earned, such as a fee that applies to all freshman (no fees in this category currently in place at Georgia Tech);.

Fees for Students in a Specific Degree Program – approval by the BOR of an elective fee or special charge required for all students in a specific degree program or in a specific course, with the exception of laboratory fees and supplemental course material fees;

Housing and Food Service Fees – approval by the USG chief fiscal officer of housing fees for on-campus facilities and fees paid by students who choose a campus food service plan.

General Guidelines for Review of Elective Fees.  Increases in all elective fees should be kept moderate and gradual. Fees approved under this policy must be reviewed by the Bursar's Office to determine the most appropriate way to assess and collect these fees; all approved fees must be administered and collected directly by the Bursar’s Office. Elective fees and special charges are reviewed on an annual basis to determine use, effectiveness, and appropriateness for continuation.

Services Funded through Fees.  Departments and schools are expected to cover normal instructional costs within their General Operations budgets, and elective fees and special charges should be needed only in exceptional situations. The financial needs of the department or school must be weighed against the impact of the fees on students and the cost of administering the fees (assessment and collection costs). The purpose of assessing an elective fee is to fund specific, unique costs that are the result of an educational choice made by the student. Fees must be used to augment, rather than replace, general budgeted funds for departmental instructional costs.

The following are examples of what may be funded through elective fees and special charges:

  • Cost of providing course materials to be consumed, retained or used by the student;
  • Special costs associated with the use of Institute-owned tools and equipment for non-mandatory, special supplemental academic programs or educational experiences that directly benefit students;
  • Cost of other materials, equipment, or services necessary to provide a special supplemental educational experience or program of direct benefit to the student;
  • Salary and fringe benefit cost of laboratory assistants for the time spent in a specific lab for which lab fees are charged;
  • Doctoral binding fees and transcript fees.

This policy specifically excludes the following cost items to be paid through elective fees:

  • Salaries, wages, and employee benefits of faculty involved in course instruction;
  • Instructional equipment located and utilized in classrooms and labs primarily during scheduled periods of instruction;
  • Reproduction of copyrighted materials or course syllabi.

This policy applies to all schools, colleges, departments, and units of the Institute.


All elective fees and special charges must conform to this Georgia Tech policy. Departments may not assess and collect course-related or any other fees not previously approved under this policy.


Proposal Format and Submission

To request a new elective fee for an upcoming academic year, a department must complete the New Student Fee Proposal Form on the Budget Office’s website. 

Requests for Fee Change

Current fees are updated annually in late fall for the following fall. The Budget Office contacts all of the departments with existing fees and requests confirmation of the fee for the following fiscal year. Changes may be made at this time. To make a change or for questions, unit financial managers should contact the Budget Program Manager, Revenue and External Funds.

Review Process

All requests to establish a new elective fee/special charge or an adjustment to an existing fee must follow this approval process. These requests are annually reviewed and submitted for approval to the Georgia Tech President and/or the BOR for implementation during the upcoming academic year. Separate fee requests are not required for courses taught during the summer if they have already been approved for the fall and spring. The approved fee is automatically assessed during the summer if the course is offered under the same course number and course description.

Guidelines for Allowable Costs

When proposing new fees, departments must adhere to the following guidelines:


  • Departments must apply a test of reasonableness to ensure funding has not already been provided to the department or school for the stated need through other fund sources, such as state or tuition funds.
  • The types of items that may be included in the fee are: art materials, course packets/kits, software/videos, special equipment, materials integral to the course or program, travel to off-campus learning sites, specific student experiences/events, and the cost of professional examination/certification required as a part of the class and procured by the institution under a group purchase. 
  • Only direct costs (not overhead/indirect costs) may be included in the computation of the fee amount, and departments must fully and accurately document the cost of salaries and fringe benefits, supplies, consumables, and support services associated with each elective fee.
  • Each proposed fee must provide program or course-specific cost information.
  • If equipment needs are included in the fee, the cost of the equipment must be allocated over the useful life of the equipment and cannot be fully expensed in the year of acquisition. For the calculation of course materials fees, “equipment” is considered to be tangible property having a useful life of more than one year.
  • If the fee is assessed for a course or program during the summer, as well as the academic year, the expected costs and revenue associated with the summer session should be included in the calculation of the overall fee. Alternatively, departments may request a different fee for the summer.


Designation and Collection of Elective Fees and Special Charges Revenue

The Budget Office will assist in establishing each fee in the appropriate fund, project, and account and contact the Bursar’s Office to set up the BANNER detail code to be used. All approved course fees will be assessed through BANNER to all students enrolled in a specific course at the time of registration. The published tuition and fee deadlines for each term will be in effect for these fees. For all other type fee approvals, a review will be made by the Bursar’s Office to determine the most appropriate method for assessment and subsequent collection.

Utilization of Elective Fee Revenue

Revenue from each individual elective fee and special charge must be expended only for the purpose(s) specified in the calculation of the approved fee. Revenue cannot be used for other needs and should not be used as a profit generating mechanism.


The Provost’s Office, Budget Office, and Bursar’s Office are responsible for applying the policy and ensuring adequate campus oversight of all fees. This responsibility includes review of fee proposals, review of the costing and proposed fee levels, reporting fees to the BOR, and the appropriate distribution of collected fees.