Course Fee Calculation, Submission, and Approval

Director, Business & Financial Administration; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education; Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Outreach and Engagement

Key Contacts 

If you have questions, please contact CLAS Undergraduate Programs and/or your department accountant. 


Faculty, Staff, Administrators, Accountants 

Policy Purpose and Description  

Supplemental course fees must be proposed by the department, approved by the College, and then approved by the University's Miscellaneous Fees Committee. Approved fees are included in the course descriptions available to students on MyUI at the time of registration. Fees are collected by the Registrar's Office through the University billing system and returned to departments. No fee may be collected directly by instructors or staff, and no materials may ever be sold directly to students by instructors or staff (see Textbooks and Materials). 

Departments may request a supplemental course fee only to cover specific costs associated with a course: for example, educational materials, equipment, and supplies. A course fee may not be used to develop general revenue. The revenue generated may not be used for purposes other than the stated course-related costs. If fees in excess of need are collected, the department must reduce or eliminate the fee in subsequent semesters. 

Supplemental course fee request forms are available at the Registrar's website.


The University of Iowa defines a course fee as a charge applied at the course level for consumable expenses directly related to the student’s participation in a course. A course fee should be based on plausible estimates of the anticipated costs or previous records of actual costs and should be kept as low as possible. 

Examples of costs that may be recovered by assessing a course fee include: (1) consumable supplies, such as art supplies and non-inventoried instructional materials, used as part of the course; (2) required travel expenses for students to visit off-campus sites as part of the course; (3) fees assessed to pay for services external to the University. General costs related to the development, instruction and assessment of offering a course are expected to be borne by the department and college, including materials related to the mechanics of teaching the course, such as course outlines, syllabi, exams, and similar handouts, and the purchase, maintenance, and replacement costs of instructional and other capital equipment. The department is also expected to bear the costs of staffing courses, including personnel employed to aid in the course such as teaching assistants and guest speakers.

Students are expected to pay directly for the cost of supplemental written materials, such as supplemental readings, if they are to have ownership of the materials. The costs of supplemental written materials will not be assessed through the course fee system. If the department does not wish to cover the costs of such materials, the materials should be sold to the students through the University Bookstore or other local distributors. This procedure simplifies the financial transaction and helps to avoid possible copyright infringement. 


Obtaining Approval of Supplemental Course Fees: 

Course fee requests must be submitted a year in advance of implementation. The department submits the Course Fee Request form to the Director, Business & Financial Administration and the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education early in the fall semester for fees to be implemented in the subsequent academic year. Fees endorsed by the College are forwarded to the University's Miscellaneous Fees Committee for consideration. Only fees approved by the University committee may be implemented. 

Each request must include a budget detailing the costs to be covered by the fee and the unit's estimate of the fee needed, based on data on enrollment figures and specific costs for the last five years. (If the fee is requested for a new course, enrollment and costs must be estimated.) The proposal specifies the length of time the fee would be imposed. Fees are approved for a maximum of five years; renewal may be requested a year before the fee is due to expire. 

The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education  may consult the Executive Committee and the Educational Policy Committee on fee proposals. 

Authorization Procedure: 

To request a new course fee or change/renew an existing course fee, the person with the course fee initiator role for the department initiates the request in MAUI. The request must include a budget detailing what costs will be covered by the fee and a revenue estimate based on projected enrollments. The proposed budget amount per student must balance to the requested course fee.  If changing an existing course fee, any existing account surplus or deficit should be explained. The request goes through workflow and must be reviewed and approved by the Administrative Home Department Executive Officer (DEO), Director, Business & Financial Administration, and Academic Dean, then forwarded to the Miscellaneous Fees Committee. The committee reviews each request and, if approved by a majority vote, forwards the fee request to the Executive Vice President & Provost and to the Senior Vice President & Treasurer for final approval.  

Workflow will notify the DEO, Director, Business & Financial Administration, and Academic Dean of the final disposition of the request and keep complete records of the justification for any fee approved. 

Deadlines for submitting a new course fee or modifying an existing course fee are:  

  • For summer session and fall semester – February 1  

  • For spring semester – October 1  

Fee approval will expire after five years. For example, a fee implemented for Fall 2021 will be effective through Summer 2026. To re-instate the fee, a new fee request must be submitted by the appropriate deadline. 

Accounting for Course Fees:

Course fee revenue and related expenses should not be co-mingled with other activities of the unit. Each course fee associated with a course must be accounted for using a unique account (at the Who Key level), acknowledging a course may have multiple sections including cross-referenced course sections. A unique Charge Type within MAUI Billing will correspond to each course fee. The following fund, institutional account, and function codes apply: 240-xx-xxxx-xxxxx-xxxxxxxx-4023-xxx-xxxxx-10-xxxx.  

For each course fee that is approved, departments are responsible for setting up a unique MFK and sending that MFK to the CLAS Director, Business & Financial Administration.  If possible, the course number should be embedded into the last four digits of the grant program number.  

Each course fee account free balance must be reviewed for reasonableness at least annually by the Director, Business & Financial Administration or Account Owner, with further investigation occurring if the free balance is +/- 20% of annual course fee revenue. The Director, Business & Financial Administration is responsible for ensuring there is a review process in place within their unit. 

Account Surplus:

Units are expected to consider whether a course fee should be reduced whenever the account free balance exceeds 20% of annual revenue. If a course has not been offered for two consecutive semesters (and a course fee is cancelled), balances may be swept into a central account to be used in one of the following ways:  

  • Fund expenses in courses where fees are not sufficient to cover current consumable costs.  

  • Consolidate into an account that would have broad applicability to student-focused initiatives 

Account Deficit:

If the account is in deficit (by more than 20% of annual revenue), units should consider whether the fee should be increased or whether there are other funding sources that should be used to fund the activity. Accumulated deficits are the responsibility of the college/department. 


Each year, University administration, the University’s Internal Audit department, or the State Auditor’s Office may randomly select a number of course fees to be audited, at which time the responsible college may be asked to justify the account balance or document compliance with this policy. 

Publication of Course Fees:

Course fees are published in the Schedule of Courses on MyUI. When a student enrolls in a course with a course fee, the student’s tuition and fee assessment summary will include the fee. The public can view a list of approved course fees on the Registrar’s Office web page here. 


Frequently Asked Questions  


Related Information 


Revision History