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DeKALB — Students might have to pay a new fee with the arrival of fiscal year 2021 but should also expect to see a decrease in charges on the whole.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve a recommendation regarding the costs of student general fees for fiscal year 2021 during its Dec. 5 meeting. General fees are levied on undergraduate students at a per-credit-hour rate for up to 12 credit hours a semester, according to the Office of the Bursar’s website.

The general fee pricing recommendation, which can be found in the meeting agenda, breaks down fees by category and notes the prospective difference in rates between fiscal year 2020 and fiscal year 2021. Fiscal year 2021 will begin July 1 and end June 30, 2021.

Contained within this recommendation is the introduction of an additional fee called the arts and culture fee, through which students would see an $0.80 charge per credit hour during the fee’s inaugural year, the recommendation says.

“We were, in this context of overall lowering the fees, able to institute a new arts and culture fee that will allow students to enjoy the wonderful productions of the School of Music and the School of Theatre and Dance without a direct cost to the students,” NIU President Lisa Freeman said at the meeting.

All other general fees would be lowered or kept flat under this proposal. With the arts and culture fee factored in, the fiscal year 2021 costs would be reduced by $3.67 per credit hour, according to the recommendation.

Among these reductions is a decrease in the health and wellness charge, which helps provide student access to Health Services and funds health education and awareness programs, the recommendation says. It would see a $1.08 decrease for fiscal year 2021, from $8.98 to $7.90 per credit hour.

“This [decrease] is largely because of the partnership we’ve been able to create with Northwestern,” Freeman said.

Northwestern Medicine assumed management responsibilities of the university’s Health Services in January.

In addition, the transportation access charge, which goes toward funding the HuskieLine bus service, parking and transportation services, would see a $3.03 decrease, from $11.53 to $8.50 per credit hour in fiscal year 2021, according to the recommendation.

“This is, again, because we were able to leverage relationships as resources through the partnership of the Huskie bus system, the HuskieLine and the city TransVAC line,” Freeman said.

HuskieLine and TransVAC merged services in August 2018.

Sarah McGill, vice president for Administration and Finance, and Beth Ingram, executive vice president and provost, are both responsible for the student fee process, Freeman said. McGill explained how students are involved in this process.

“We have a student fee committee,” McGill said. “As part of that committee, there’s membership that includes some of the administrative and academic areas, as well as … three to five student representatives that serve on that committee. There are different levels of involvement based on the student government, the speaker and other individuals that take part in those discussions.”

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