Light of Day Project: Tarleton student service fee totals top $3.3 million

By Rachel Peoples
Texan News Service
Originally published Aug. 14, 2014

The average Tarleton student just finished paying around $1,400 in fees for the upcoming semester.

Though students are used to shelling out hundreds of dollars each semester to pay for library fees, parking and the like, most probably don’t know where that money goes.

Texan News Service decided to trace the trail and we started with the Student Service Fee, which, records show, took in some $3.3 million in 2013. We wanted to know where students’ money goes – not just the organization that spent it, but how and where it was spent.

Using the Texas Public Information Act, TNS requested on Oct. 22, 2013 documentation showing how the money was spent for each fee category – Athletics (does not include football since the funds for that come from another account), Rec Sports, Rodeo Activities, Thompson Student Center, Duck Camp-Student Engagement, Student Publications, Student Activities-Special Events, Greek Life, Student Org Travel, Rodeo Scholarship, Student Organizations, Judicial Affairs, Student Life Studies, Band Activities, Tarleton Alternative Transport, Alcohol Education, SGA/House of Reps, Campus Diversity Program, Peer Ed Program and COAHS Scholarship .

When Bethann Coldiron and I originally filed the request, 2013 was the most recent year for which information was available.

Our analysis is part of a larger venture by the Freedom of Information Foundation’s Light of Day Project which was organized with the purpose of teaching students to use the Texas Public Information Act.

Other universities sharing in the project include Texas A&M University, Texas State University and the University of Texas at El Paso.

We eventually received some 20 excel spreadsheets that totaled more than 7,400 rows of data showing vendor names, dates, amounts and other transaction details for each penny spent.

Today we begin sharing the data in a series of spreadsheets, charts and visualizations showing how that money was spent. We invite you to follow along as we publish more of the data throughout the semester.

Students in the spring, 2013 Advanced Reporting class helped to sort the data from the raw spreadsheets. Special thanks to Autumn Owens and Katie Gibbs for their contribution.