*Editor’s Note: This story was written by Fiona Salvatori.*
BLOOMSBURG, Pa. –Bloomsburg University students are offered many opportunities and programs in order to enhance their learning experience. What some students may not realize is most of these programs and opportunities are being paid for out of their own pocket.
The Student Success Fee, which is currently $310.75 per semester was recently added to BU students’ bills over the course of the last couple years. It started at $300 in 2016, and has since gone up with tuition increases.
The fee has raised questions of whether this additional cost is necessary. According to the University website, the Student Success Fee was put into effect by the Bloomsburg University Council of Trustees (a group appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania and approved by the Senate). The addition of the fee to students’ bills was crucial after the state funding provided to the university was not sufficiently able to keep several BU programs alive. The Student Success Fee is said to have a significant impact on student retention and graduation rates.
According to a video from 2016 of Dr. Soltz, previous BU President, programs and opportunities covered by the fee include: in-depth undergraduate research, unique study-abroad opportunities, career internships, and many other on and off-campus activities that help student preparation for success after graduation.
“Instituting the student success fee was a difficult decision, but the council of trustees, faculty, staff, and I do not want [students] to lose access to the programs, services and experiences you have come to associate with the distinctive quality of student life,” explained Soltz in the video.
One of many programs beneficial to students is the Writing and Literacy Engagement Studio (WALES). According to their page on the University website, the goal of WALES is to ease the writing process for all students of every major by offering support at any stage of the writing process.
Julia Miller, a junior at Bloomsburg University and seasoned consultant at WALES, said, “If funding was cut [to WALES], students would no longer have a free, judgment-free place to work one-on-one with fellow peers to gain valuable skills in all kinds of academic writing. WALES is unique in that it benefits students in all majors, not just English majors,” said Miller.
Julia said that she works with about seven to nine students a week. Amanda Gehman, a freshman student at BU and regular client at WALES couldn’t imagine not having it as a resource.
“[WALES] is extremely helpful when you’re having writers block or even need help with sourcing your papers. As a Mass Communications major, I am always writing and find WALES to be an important resource for students,” said Gehman.
Although the Student Success Fee has raised eyebrows and become somewhat of a controversy, it is without a doubt that the programs it funds are beneficial to many.