I hope grocery stores don't start getting into this game, charging "mandatory" shopping cart usage fees and parking fees.
When a student goes to college, their tuition and boarding fees should be absolute. I understand buying books, but books don't even have to be bought at the school itself. But what I'll call "university level" expenses should be fixed, known, and transparent.
But universities today are hitting students with the equivalent of baggage fees and resort fees, and these fees, like their cousins in the travel industry, are not only wrong, they're significant:
To solve this problem, UCLA is introducing a $4 student fee to pay for better concerts. That illuminates a budgeting issue in higher education -- and indeed among human beings more generally.That's an additional $3500/yr, above and beyond the posted "sticker price".
That $4 is not a large fee. Even the poorest student can probably afford it. On the other hand, collectively, UCLA’s student fees are significant: more than $3,500, or about a quarter of the mandatory cost of attending UCLA for a year.
Those fees are made up of many items, each trivial individually. Only collectively do they become a major source of costs for students and their families and potentially a barrier to college access for students who don’t have an extra $3,500 lying around.
Here's a fun activity: choose a school, find what its annual fees are that are not included in tuition, and then determine each component of those fees--in other words, where that money is supposed to go. In many cases you'll be shocked--if you can get the information.