Student fees for fine arts majors can have you grabbing your wallet and running out the door, but are the extra dollars being put to good use?
The School of Fine Arts grants degrees in art, theatre/cinema and music. Although the fees vary depending on major, the ending amount can be a big eye opener for most students and parents.
Student fees are broken down by department, class and the materials for that class. The amount of the fee relies on what materials the students will be using in the class, according to Peter Hriso, chair of the art department.
“Most of the fees are determined by the price of the materials that have to be purchased,” Hriso said.
Materials for each major vary widely, which results in different types of fees and different amounts of fees for each of the three majors.
Materials for art students can include special paints, utensils, papers, fabrics, glazes, colors, etc. Hriso explains it is impossible to have art classes without the use of some sort of material.
“All of our classes are applied classes, and they need materials to be utilized and evolved in some way,” Hriso said.
The fees for art students include a fine arts materials fee, materials and technology fee, arts program fee and computer intensive course fee.
The fine arts materials fee and the materials and technology fee can range from $20 – $150 per class. These fees are a flat rate fee, meaning they do not depend on the amount of credit hours for the class.
Other fees, like the fine arts program fee, are per credit hour and depend on the length of the course. This program fee is currently $31.55 per credit hour.
The computer intensive course fee is also a flat rate fee of $45, but the money from this fee goes to the upkeep of the computers. Hriso explains the quality of the computers and the computer software is important to the work the graphic design students can produce.
“The majority of our computers are not using just like word processing machines, we’re using the machines that have the capacity and capabilities to do graphics, and normally high-end graphics,” Hriso said.
The programs that use this sort of high-end graphics include graphic design, motion design, game design and digital animation.
Hriso says each of the Mac labs in Potter have recently been updated within the past year or so to give students the most recent programs Apple offers.
Aside from technology, Missouri Western charges student fees because the tuition and state funding for the schools are so low.
“I know people don’t like fees, but the tuition here is very competitive, and I think it’s very low,” Hriso said. “I think you have to balance looking at that with the fees as well.”
Theatre and cinema
The student fees for the theatre and cinema major focus mainly on the technology used for photography, computer programmming, lighting and stage equipment/materials.
Jeff Stover, chair of the theatre, cinema and dance department, explains how the money from the fees is used to pay for the equipment provided to the students.
“The way it has been explained to me, the fees essentially go to pay for the equipment that we keep in the cinema cage,” Stover said.
Stover explains the department has worked out a deal with the IMC, where the IMC would purchase the equipment and the department will pay them back through student fees. This way, the students can have access to the best equipment possible.
“Our cinema cage is actually very well stocked for the university,” Stover said. “We have all HD cameras in there, we have steady cam rigs, we have lighting kits, we have audio, so all of the fees go towards paying that equipment.”
Theatre and cinema major Mike Hadley says the amount of the fees didn’t hinder his decision to become a fine arts major because he is happy with the equipment he is able to use as a student.
“[The fees] don’t really bother me all that much because it helps pay for the materials, such as helping purchase or rent the scripts for the shows, help pay for the facilities and any necessary materials that we might need that are provided by the department,” Hadley said.
The fees included in the theatre and cinema majors are the computer intensive course fee, the program fee and the computer assisted course fee.
The computer intensive course fee is a flat rate of $45, the program fee is $48.50 per credit hour and the computer assisted course fee is $35 flat.
Hadley explains how the fees have helped to upgrade different areas of the department, including renovating the costume shop and providing new lights. He says there is only one thing he would like to see the fees go towards.
“Maybe helping provide more opportunities for students,” Hadley said. “[The department] already provides a ton of stuff for us, and our professors are always willing to help us out. It’s mainly just using the money for the opportunities that we can get.”
Stover says the program is able to offer unique experiences to their students because of the equipment they have and are able to use.
“The fact that our students are getting a hold of the equipment literally in their first year here is huge,” Stover said. “We are the only cinema program in the region, so if you go to another school and you try and do cinema stuff, you’re probably not going to have a camera in your hand.”
Students generally don’t complain about the amount of fees they are paying out per semester because the quality of the equipment makes up for the amount being paid.
The department of music currently comes in first place with the amount of fees students are being charged for. The department currently has six different fees being applied to certain classes.
The flat rate fees include: a $50 music equipment fee; a $100 music major general fee; a $100 music major instrumental fee; a $100 applied music fee; and a $25 music material/concert fee.
The last fee, a fine arts program fee, is $31.55 per credit hour.
Not all fees are applied to every class. The department currently offers the most courses to students, and generally has two to three fees per class.
The department chair was unavailable for comment, but Willenbrink explains the money from the fees goes to the upkeep of the instruments and towards purchasing new equipment.
He also explains that fine arts majors cannot complete their degree without the use of certain materials. For example, the students must have the music in order to sing or play.
“I think when you take a fine arts major, you’re under a certain understanding that there’s going to be supplies that you have to buy,” Willenbrink said.
The fees are applied to students in order to make up for Missouri Western’s lower tuition and state funding.
“Some schools have much higher tuition, so that’s what budgeted, but here the fees charge you for what you will use, the consumables that you will use, and nothing more,” Willenbrink said.
The goal with student fees is to keep them at a flat rate, so students will not have to worry about an increase of price in the near future.
“My goal as dean is to keep them strictly at a cost that is necessary, not to inflate them,” Willenbrink said. “We’re very conscious of that, and we are very conscious that those fees are in place.”
For students who have questions on how much they are paying in fees per semester or year, those rates are available for viewing through their Goldlink account.