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Harvard forces students to pay $125 more in hard-to-avoid activities fee

It’s not cheap to attend Harvard. Published tuition, room, board and fees total nearly $70,000 a year, before the expected cost of socializing.

For undergraduates who are struggling to make ends meet, it’s about to get even more challenging.

Rather than continue to proportionally cut funding for recognized student groups as applications for funding balloon, Harvard College has increased the student activities fee that funds them by 167 percent, from $75 to $200.

The budget crunch was particularly acute this spring, with “across-the-board cuts consistently above the 25 percent mark” and the student government’s finance committee dipping into its emergency fund to avoid a 43 percent cut “to its grants pack,” The Harvard Crimson reports.

With the fee hike comes a different governance structure: It will leave the student government’s sole purview and come under the authority of a “funding board” that includes administrators and representatives from events, sports and house committees.

Harvard’s process for opting out of the fee is more cumbersome than Yale’s, leading to drastically different opt-out rates, according to the Crimson.

Yale’s fee of $125 can be avoided by simply checking a box on a student’s application:

At Harvard, however, students must send a letter to the College requesting a waiver before they can escape the fee. The opt-out rate at the College has recently hovered around 1 percent, according to Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane.

By comparison, Yale’s opt-out rate stood at 7.85 percent in 2014 and has increased since, according to Addison Jakubowicz, the finance director of the Yale College Council.The higher opt-out rate at Yale can account for tens of thousands in potential lost funding.

“There are many students for which that additional $125 makes a difference and that’s completely understandable,” Jakubowicz said.

Read the article.

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