End the Fees! FAQ

What fees do I pay?

All graduate workers pay fees. The University classifies these as “mandatory fees.” This academic year, graduate workers on 9 semester credit hours in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will pay $687.50 this year. International students are required to pay additional fees. For the year 2023-2024, all first semester and returning students are required to pay $250 per fall and spring semesters and $67.50 per summer semesters. In addition to these fees, first semester international students are required to pay an additional $445 their first semester.

Read a more detailed breakdown of the fees we pay here. [Coming soon]

Where do my fees go?

The short answer is we do not know. The University alleges that many of the fees we pay are used to support the maintenance of buildings, staffing, new construction projects, discounted tickets for art and culture events, and other professional development services. However, they are vague about how they spend the money we pay them every semester. What we do know is that the University profits off of our poverty, charging graduate workers to allegedly fund campus facilities that no employee should have to pay for.

Why do we pay fees?

The University says the fees are necessary to pay for services on campus, including technology and administrative services. But no University worker should pay for the costs of maintaining the buildings where we conduct the research and teach the classes that generate significant revenue for the University. These costs are squarely the responsibility of our employer. Cashiers are not responsible for buying their own registers and bringing them to work, and you should not have to pay for the buildings where you work. When COGS won reductions in fees in the past, this did not correspond to reductions in services. They are making us pay because you are the most vulnerable workers and they believe you will not speak out against it.

Have graduate workers won fee reductions before?

Yes! When we organized and fought back against fees, COGS successfully won a 25% and later a 50% reduction in mandatory fees, which is what we currently pay. Only a powerful union will be able to end all the fees.

When we won fee reductions before, did services change?

No. After we fought and won a 50% reduction in mandatory fees, the University infrastructure remained completely intact and operational, with no changes in services.

Does this happen at other universities?

Many universities charge their graduate workers fees, but many graduate worker unions have won campaigns to significantly reduce them or end them completely, including Indiana University, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, and Michigan State University.

How will signing a petition win an end to fees?

It is necessary we have our demand to end the fees clearly laid out for University administration. Student Government and other campus groups have vocalized their support of ending or reducing fees in the past. However, the administration routinely ignores small groups. A petition with a majority of graduate worker signees demonstrates that a demand to end the fees has support from an overwhelming number of the employees who are subject to paying fees to work every semester. A petition makes explicit that graduate workers publicly support and are willing to take action to end the fees. Every time fees have been reduced for graduate workers, it was because we had the power of a strong union behind our demands. Only a powerful union will be able to finally end the fees, which is why it is vital that graduate employees become dues-paying members. As members, we collectively make decisions and vote on campaign priorities and how to move forward. 

What can I do to help us win an end to fees?

First, make sure you have signed the petition (cogs.org/endthefees) and shared it with all the graduate workers you know. (We have an email template here!) Next, you should sign up to be a part of one of our committees to work to end the fees, which you can do here. Become a member of the union so you can have a voice in how we continue the fight. 

Can I sign the petition and be involved as an international student?

Yes! As an international student you have rights protected by national and state laws to engage in political activity, including signing a petition and being part of your union. Your participation (and even leadership!) as an international student is critically important, as fees affect international students more severely than anyone else. Read more about international students in COGS here: www.cogs.org/cogs-faq