Technology Fee Increase
PCC students are facing another fee increase for the upcoming 2019-21 biennium. The Technology Fee covers what are known as “student facing” expenses incurred by the college that include Online Learning resources, Student Support services, accessibility technology and services, and instructional support services. Budget advocacy town hall meetings will be held in December 2018 or January 2019 to coincide with the Finance Department’s budget timeline. Staff, students, and faculty will have the opportunity to ask questions during these “budget 101” forums to clarify the issues that inform the decision to implement the increase.
Chief Information Officer and Technology Fee Task Force co-chair Michael Northover disclosed that the Technology Fee covers the maintenance of several directly student-facing services, as well as increased costs associated with equipment and devices for student checkout, classroom and open lab technology, and ongoing support. He explained that maintenance costs covered by the Fee include software license renewals and software maintenance agreements.
If approved, a proposed $0.65 per credit hour increase would take effect on July 1, 2019 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-20, and another $0.15 increase is slated for FY 2020-21. Students currently pay $4.50 per credit hour in Technology Fees. Each increase would raise this to $5.15 per credit hour in FY 2019-20 and $5.30 for FY 2020-21. The increases are intended to offset increased costs associated with student-facing services, equipment replacement costs, inflation, and “other economic factors” as well as a 20.3% budget cut for the current biennium. Student facing services include: online learning resources (D2L Brightspace); student support services (Student Help Desk, Online Tutoring, and the College Catalog); accessibility technology and services including accessibility software, and captioning and transcription services; and instructional support resources including computer lab support staff.
Incidentally, the equipment costs normally funded by the Fee were subject to steep budget cuts during the current biennium which postponed the replacement of aged classroom computers, as well as other projected technology purchases. Northover explained, “It also resulted in overspending on student support staff for the public computer labs which was a service we did not want to cut as it provides student employment.”
The total Technology Fee budget to cover IT personnel, equipment, and services across the district for FY 2019-20 is $3,740,558. Projected budgets for FY 2020-21 and 2021-22 are $3,879,143 and $3,887,790, respectively. It’s worth noting that the Technology Fee is 100% funded from fee revenue. Northover elaborates on this,
“Because of this, only ‘student facing’ costs (as opposed to ‘administrative costs’) can be funded from the Tech Fee. Conversely, however, overall ‘student facing’ costs greatly exceed the Tech Fee budget, so the residual costs are funded from the General Fund.”
With declining enrollment rates projected to be 4% in both FY 2019 and FY 2020 and a 3% decrease in FY 2021, the projected Technology Fee revenues without the increase will be $3,562,412; $3,419,916; and $3,317,318 for FY 2019, FY 2020, and FY 2021, respectively. In order to maintain current service levels and to replace aging equipment, both the District Student Council and the Technology Fee Task Force recommend an increase.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that funding from the Technology Fee covers the cost of Library database subscriptions. The Library does not use Technology Fee funds to pay for database subscription fees. This post has been updated to reflect this.