NDSU Hits Students With Request For A 35 Percent Fee Increase


1/5/13 - NDSU vs. Sam Houston State in the 2012 FCS National Football Championship game in Frisco, Texas. The Bison beat the Bearkats 39-13.

According to this report in the NDSU student newspaper, a request from the university’s athletics department for a 35.5 percent fee increase was met with a cool response from the students.

Taxpayer/student subsidies for NDSU athletics programs have increased 83 percent since 2005.

I should point out that this is exemplary of the way athletics programs at schools like NDSU make attendance more expensive for students. Things like football and hockey programs are often touted as being a boon for universities and the students who attend there, but in reality they crank up the costs.

In 2014, the last year for which numbers are available from the NCAA, North Dakota State spent $20.618 million on athletic programs but generated just $12.718 million in revenue from ticket sales, merchandising, etc. The rest – over $7.994 million – came from general university funds and student fees. In other words, taxpayers and students.

That works out to over $542 in subsidies per NDSU student in 2014, a figure that’s up 83 percent since 2005 (I divided the yearly university/student fee subsidy by each year’s fall enrollment).

Given the way the cost of higher education has soared for both students and taxpayers over the last several decades, it’s a little hard to justify these athletic subsidies.

Now students are being asked by the athletic programs to jack up fees yet again, and while they aren’t exactly being forthright about why the fee increase is needed, I think I have an idea.

First, consider this exchange from a meeting between students and the athletics department as documented by the student newspaper:

Conner Swanson, who served on the 2014 SFAB, questioned why Phelps and Maughan were requesting a fee increase when athletics and other organizations received an increase for a five-year plan two years ago.

“What has changed and why are you back two years later and not five?” Swanson asked.

“I’d have to go back and take a look at (that fee increase) and get back to you,” Phelps said.

Now consider this press release from August where NDSU announced that they would be expanding their athletics scholarship programs to the full cost of attendance, a chance in policy from the NCAA responding to demands for more compensation from collegiate athletes (emphasis mine):

In January 2015, the FBS autonomy conferences passed permissive legislation allowing institutions to cover the full cost of attendance within an athletic scholarship. With this change in legislation, additional support for academic related supplies, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses associated with attending the institution, can be included in the scholarship.

The anticipated additional cost for NDSU will be up to $3,400 per full scholarship. This initiative will be funded exclusively through private donations.

So NDSU is claiming these new scholarship costs will be paid for exclusively through private donations. But now the athletics department is hitting up students for a fee increase with nebulous justification.

Seems to me like the two things might be connected. Something for the students to consider.

Meanwhile, NDSU President Dean Bresciani totally deserves a $7,000 luxury airline seat upgrade, you guys.