College Fees: Where your money is going

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Some experts also believe the fees are a way for universities to gain more money without raising tuition. (KFSN)

Dana Zucker loves looking at pictures of twins Samuel and Sydney now that they are off in college-- and she doesn't mind footing the bill.

"We always knew college was going to be expensive."

Zucker checked out tuition, room, and board but when she saw a line that said fees she was shocked-- included on her son's bill, required fees of more than $1,600 and just over $900 in fees for her daughter's.

"Often, a university will have a big fee, called a comprehensive fee that really represents eight or 10 smaller fees that are all rolled in into one," said Dr. Richard Vedder, Center for College Affordability.

Dr. Vedder said while some schools lump fees together, other schools itemize with things like "spirit fee" or "incidental fee".

Dr. Vedder said there is a reason fees are becoming more common at private and public schools.

"The universities are doing more and more things that cost money. Students are having fancier recreational facilities, for example."

But, some experts also believe the fees are a way for universities to gain more money without raising tuition. Many parents say they just want transparency when it comes to their children's bills.

"I really don't know what that $1500 to $1600 goes to, to be honest," said Zucker.

So, we decided to ask-- Samuel attends Brandeis University in Massachusetts and in a statement the university said, "its student fees aggregate student charges for health services, technology services, and for student activities."

Dr. Vedder urges parents to be proactive with all schools.

"Parents can be a little more aggressive than they are in asking admissions officers and financial aid officers, 'Why am I paying this fee?"

While most remain mandatory, you can often opt out of the health insurance fee, as Zucker found out at New York University where her daughter attends.

"I saved myself some money today!"

We also reached out to a handful of other universities. Harvard-- which has a comprehensive fee-- told us it only discusses fees with families, but stressed most of its students receive financial aid.

Other schools either did not respond to our requests or told us they would get back to us, and haven't yet.
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