Shawn Zetzer

As Justin Reddington, Miami University junior accounting major, opened his semester e-bill in November 2009, he may have skimmed past the $861.51 general fee or the $60 facilities fee.

“To be honest, I have wondered what those fees were but when looking at a $12,000 instructional fee, you tend to ignore it,” Reddington said, who works 20 to 30 hours a week at IKEA to pay his way through college.

The name facilities fee can be deceiving.

“I would assume that to go toward beautification of the campus,” Reddington said.

However, the facilities fee is being used to retire Goggin Ice Center construction debt, said David Creamer, vice president of finance and business services.

While part of the funds for the construction of Goggin Ice Center were collected through gifts, the majority was a planned fee for the students.

The Goggin debt, also known as the facilities fee, could not be put into the student general fee because of state limitations on that charge.

“The assumption was that because of the nature of this particular fee it would likely fall outside of that general fee and need some additional approval,” Creamer said.

Students also pay a $77.80 operation fee each semester, and when the fees are combined, students are paying $137.80 per semester for Goggin. The fee started when Goggin began construction in September 2004.

“I believe the debt on that was 20 years and that would have it expiring about 2024,” Creamer said.

If a student investigated a breakdown of the student general fees, they would immediately notice $429.46, or half, of the fee is paid to Miami’s Intercollegiate Athletics department.

That fee funds expenses such as equipment, travel, hotel stays and the scholarships Miami hands out every year, according to Creamer.

Specifically it does not fund operation of any of the arenas or fields such as Millett Hall, which has a separate charge within the general fee.

Miami has always offered “free” admission to sporting events, a luxury that students, as well as prospective students, believe to be a real perk of the campus. However, Miami pays more into the athletic department then Ohio University, Bowling Green, Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati.

If Miami were to turn to the system most used by other Mid-American Conference (MAC) schools, which allows students to buy tickets before the general public, that may lower the general fee substantially, said Jason Lener, deputy athletic director.

“Anything like that is upstairs, I do not know what discussions have taken place, but I’m sure it warrants investigation,” Lener said, who has been with Miami for three and a half years.

All other schools in the Mid-American Conference, however, receive funding from student tuition and student ticket prices, Lener said.

Miami does have one perk that no other MAC school has.

“We don’t charge students anything above and beyond that fee,” Lener said, who also is also responsible for managing the athletic department’s budget.

Creamer, however, sees it as a relationship between our enrollment size and the competitiveness of our programs.

“It does tend to be a little bit more than the other MAC schools because we have lower enrollment,” Creamer said.

Miami has an all-campus enrollment of just more than 20,000 students, yet Creamer said Miami is able to compete with much larger programs.

The Intercollegiate Budget for the 2010 fiscal year is $13.8 million; general fees make up those funds.

“The students pay ‘x’ amount of dollars; Dr. Creamer and his staff allocate those fees to each student activities on campus,” Lener said.

Lener said the Intercollegiate Athletics branch makes the rest of its budget within the department through ticket sales, marketing, sponsorships and annual donations.

While many people have input on the Intercollegiate Athletics department’s use of its budget, it comes down to Lener to create and present an acceptable budget plan to the university.

The budget for Intercollegiate Athletics is consistent with last year’s budget after a rise following 2007.

“We are very much understanding of our financial situation,” Lener said.

Even Miami’s No. 1-ranked hockey team takes charter planes and buses to events. Lener said the NCAA paid for charter plane trips during last season’s tournament.

“We feel the burden to be fiscally responsible whether they are doing well or not doing well,” Lener said. “We are a member of this university and no different then any other department.”