Original Issuance Date: 1978
Last Revision Date: November 7, 2022

1. Policy Purpose

This policy sets forth the variety of purposes for which institutions may use special course fees and the procedures for assessing special course fees.

2. Responsible UW System Officer

Vice President for Finance and Administration

3. Scope and Institutional Responsibilities

This policy applies to all University of Wisconsin System institutions when implementing special course fees to pay for instructional costs not covered in an institution’s regular budget.

4. Background

The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System is empowered to establish special course fees under the provisions of Wis. Stat. § 36.27(1).

5. Definitions

None listed.

6. Policy Statement

A. General Provisions

Institutions may assess special course fees to pay for certain instructional costs that are not covered by the institution’s regular instructional budget. Special course fees may be used for a variety of purposes, as deemed necessary by the institution, for the delivery of a credit course. Some examples of purposes for which institutions may charge special course fees include the cost of transportation and admission on field trips; materials for projects that result in tangible products retained by students; and private lessons provided to non-music majors.

Special course fees shall be used solely for approved purposes and in support of the courses for which the fees were assessed. Institutions must strive to provide all students in a course who are charged a special course fee with a reasonable opportunity to benefit equally from the fee.

Institutions may not use special course fees as a substitute for obtaining adequate regular budget support for a course. Institutions are prohibited from charging special course fees for costs that should reasonably be covered by the institution’s regular instructional budget. Examples of prohibited use are included in the Appendix.

University students sometimes incur personal expenses by directly purchasing required, recommended, and optional instructional materials in support of their educational experience. These personal or incidental expenses do not typically require approval as a special course fee unless the institution collects fees from students to facilitate payment for goods and services needed for a course. Some examples of personal expenses include: textbooks and course supplies purchased from the university bookstore; food, lodging, and incidentals on field trips; and transportation to sites for student teaching and clinical assignments.

B. Approval and Notification

The Chancellor or his or her designee(s) must approve all special course fees and must document and maintain all records of that approval. Each institution should develop a standard approval process. Institutions shall notify students of all approved special course fees in the university catalog/bulletin and/or timetable/class schedule prior to registration.

C. Fee Collection

Institutions shall bill students for all approved special course fees through the university billing process. Institutions are prohibited from collecting special course fees in the classroom, and faculty or instructors may not collect fees from students.

D. Fee Expenditures

Institutions that accumulate cash balances from special course fees shall adjust future special course fees to eliminate the balances.

E. Accountability

Institutions shall establish appropriate procedures and records to account for special course fee revenue and expenditures.

7. Related Documents

Wis. Stat. § 36.27(1)

SYS 825 Appendix

8. Policy History

Revision 4: November 7, 2022
Revision 3: April 7, 2006
Revision 2: October 23, 1991
Revision 1: 1981
First approved: 1978

9. Scheduled Review

November 2027