This article was contributed by Nicholas Erickson.
While all tuition rates for undergraduate courses are the same, three programs on campus, including the Art, Mass Communications and Nursing programs, use a program fee to increase department funding for student benefit.
“Because some of those programs have specialized costs, those funds are set aside to help pay for those educational costs,” said Mike Uran, director of the Financial Aid Department.
The program fees are applied to every credit. Art carries the highest program fee of $35.94, followed by Mass Communications at $32.33 and Nursing at $27.15. The fees are only applied to upper division major coursework. So, if an Art major were to take 40 credits of Art classes, they would pay around $1440 in program fees. Program fees do not apply to those who are taking an Art, Mass Communications and Nursing courses for generals, online courses, and for classes under a different department filling a major requirement.
Also, the Art department uses it to offer a stronger degree that is hard to find.
“SCSU is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), which requires that there is ongoing financial support [for] effective learning environments,” said David Sebberson, chair of the Art Department.
“Overall, I think I’m definitely getting some benefit out of it,” said Jake Skurka, a graphic design student, about the program fees. “I don’t know if I could be getting as much benefit as I could be getting.”
Each department is responsible for the spending of the program fees.
The nursing department uses the money for their simulation lab and medical supplies for educating their students. The lab features several specialized and monitored mannequins to provide an immersive student experience.
Joyce Simmons, a professor of Nursing, realizes simulation and technology as a necessity in today’s job market. “They use simulation all the way through the program, not just for a semester, but the whole time,” Simmons said.
“Nursing itself has changed. We are not able to place students in the hospital,” Simmons said. “We can only maybe put five students in a clinical setting, so we will do much of their learning in the simulation lab.”
The Mass Communications Department’s use of the money revolves around the $5 million UTVS studio, with hopes to involve the other sequences in television production to better equip them as journalists/professionals.
“The original plan was to converge all of the sequences under the umbrella of UTVS, and we could have PR [public relations] use the studio,” said Mark Mills, professor of Mass Communications and former chair for the department.
“Our ultimate plan, which will take place this Fall , is to bring all of the sequences classes down there, give them a primer [an educational session on how to use the studio] and the idea is that we should be able to produce any kind of production with two people, as opposed to a 16-person crew it takes to put on a newscast,” he said.
Mills said he believes having a more complete understanding of the different communication mediums will make graduates better professionals.
“It’s probably wrong that a student can go through advertising and not know how to produce a TV commercial let’s say,” Mills said. “I think that this convergence will give public relations and advertising students more camera and editing time, and skills,” Mills said.
Program fees are used to cover the expenses of the department, such as computer warranties, special programs like Adobe Suite and video editing software, medical supplies, costumes and materials, as well as upgrades to the existing technologies.
Regarding programs fees for other departments, Uran said that “we have not expanded that in any other programs and right now, I don’t know of any initiatives to expand.”