Bundling raises questions of accountability


An increase in tuition is not the only change students of Northern Kentucky University will be hit with this fall.

An increase in student fees and a change in the way fees are paid, known as bundling, were also approved by the Board of Regents at its March meeting.

The technology fee was bumped up $30 per semester along with a 4 percent increase in the athletic enhancement fee. Bundling is a process that lumps tuition and fees together into one figure as simply tuition.

Although there were no objections to the fee increases, objections were raised to bundling.

“Student government did not support bundling,” said Katie Herschede, student government president. Herschede explained that with bundling, it would be more difficult to see how student fees were distributed. She also argued that with fees and tuition separated, any requested increase could be voted on separately.

Gerald Hunter, vice president for Enrollment and Financial Management, said bundling makes NKU consistent in terms of what they say it costs to attend the university.

“It’s almost like people feel like they are nickeled and dimed when they’re hit with those fees on the side,” Hunter said. He added that the move would also help students who are being reimbursed by employers. Now, many employers won’t reimburse for the fees.

University President James C. Votruba saw the move as good public policy. “I believe the bottom line is truth in advertising and the ability to tell people what it’s going to cost in a much more straight forward way,” said Votruba.

He agreed that separating fees makes it easier to maintain accountability. Now, he said, accountability will focus on tuition instead of fees. He continued by saying the university’s books are open so anyone would be able to see that the money is being distributed correctly.

The biggest challenge with bundling, according to Votruba, was marketing. The first year, he said, would be the most difficult, but other universities were doing the same thing. “We believe we have company and can meet the marketing challenge,” said Votruba.

Herschede said the student government understood there were advantages to bundling, but still felt the cons outweighed the pros.

“Our concern is that student voices could be lost in this process,” she said.