Commissioner Crofts appointed the Regents Task Force on Student Fees in July 1999. The members include:

Alex Capdeville, UM Helena COT Jeremy Fritz, Board of Regents
Jessica Kobos, MAS Karl Ulrich, WMC UM
Laurie Neils, CHE Lee Peters, MSU-Billings
Marlene McMillan, Montana Tech Roger Barber, MSU Northern
Rosi Keller, UM-Missoula Tom Stump, MSU Bozeman

The charge posed by Commissioner Crofts to the Task Force was to assess the following:

  • Have we relied too much on course fees?
  • Do we need to have criteria for approving of course fees and, if so, what ought those criteria to be?
  • What ought to be the role of students in the process of approving course fees?
  • What costs should be used in determining the amount of a particular fee?
  • How should the income from course fees be accounted for?
  • Does "truth-in advertising" suggest that we should reduce fees and increase tuition in a revenue neutral manner?
  • If we reduce mandatory fees and increase tuition will students lose some of their influence on how these dollars are spent?
  • Is the perception of the Montana University System negatively affected by "sticker shock" when students discover what the actual cost of their education is going to be?
  • What mandatory fees ought to be charged students engaged in distributed learning?

 In working through its charge, the Task Force agreed on several causes for the proliferation of course fees:

  • The campuses and their academic departments desire to provide a quality educational experience for their students;
  • The lack of state support- only a 10% increase over a ten-year period;
  • An increase in the operating expenses of academic budgets without an increase in budget;
  • The desire for a flexible funding source for operating expenses, which would continue from year-to-year.

With these realities in mind, the Task Force believes that changes are needed in order to provide the students with better up-front information about their educational costs, to provide the Regents with better information regarding the course fees they are asked to approve annually, and to provide better accountability and review for the fees charged and the related costs. The Task Force believes that when students pay "Tuition and Mandatory Fees", those dollars should include:

  • Faculty salaries (including teaching assistants);
  • All expenditures related to providing instruction, including guest speakers, tutors, and related travel and operating expenses;
  • Equipment (including but not limited to computers, scientific equipment, furniture);
  • Repair and maintenance of equipment;
  • Software including desk top applications (but excluding software students purchase individually and retain);
  • General, non-specialized supplies (including but not limited to paper, pencils, markers);
  • General, non-specialized operating expenses (including but not limited to printing for class syllabus or tests).


  1. Change the name of "incidental fee" to "tuition."
  2. This change is important from the aspect of "truth in labeling". It may require statutory changes as well.

  3. Course fees will be limited to three specific purposes:
    1. Specialized activities or equipment fees, where payment is made to entities generally conducting these types of businesses (such as downhill skiing, bowling, etc)
    2. Field trips;
    3. Pass-through fees (like Red Cross Certifications, Nursing liability insurance);
  1. Establish a new mandatory fee called "Instructional Materials Fee" that would include operating expenses for high cost, program/department specific supplies which are consumed, on average, within the term;
  2. Establish "Program Fees" for students enrolled in high cost two-year programs;
  3. Continue "Super Tuition" for high cost four-year or graduate programs, such as Law, Physical Therapy, and Pharmacy at UM-Missoula. Review other high cost programs such as Architecture and Nursing at MSU-Bozeman to see if they fit into this category;
  4. Look at increases in computer or equipment fees to accommodate changes from course fees.

Instructional Materials Fee

The Instructional Materials Fee will be a mandatory fee, established in the designated fund. The purpose of this fee is to cover operating expenses for high cost, program/department specific supplies that are consumed, typically, within the term. Each campus will establish an allocation model for the distribution of the fee and include students in the decision making process. The campuses would be required to report annually on the allocation of the revenues from this fee. The report will include the total amount of revenue collected from the fee, the amount distributed to each academic department, in general, how each department proposed to spend their share of the fee, and any fund balance remaining in the fee account at fiscal year-end. Each year, the report on the Instructional Materials Fee will be brought forward to the student senate on each campus and to the Board of Regents.

Review and Acceptance of New or Changes in Instructional Materials Fee:

Each year, any increases in the Instructional Materials Fee will undergo a review process. The flow of this request will vary slightly for each campus, but will include:

  1. Request from Faculty Senate after yearly review
  2. Review and comment from Dean/Provost
  3. Review and comment from campus chief executive officer
  4. Review and comment by the Student Senate
  5. Further review and comment by the campus chief executive officer, if necessary
  6. Inventory and Validation of Fees
  7. Distribution of fee following review by campus Instructional Materials Fee Committee.

The Task Force recommends that these changes take place effective summer 2001. There will be a moratorium on course fees for FY2001.