Volume 2 Issue 3

Ask the Moms

I get so frustrated with school fees. It seems like they’re always going up and never going down. What authorizes the collection of fees and who decides which fees are mandatory and which are voluntary?

Colorado schools are able to collect fees despite the state constitution saying public education should be gratuitous because of Colorado State Law (CRS 22-32-117). The law allows the Board of Education to authorize the collection of fees. The Jeffco Board of Education should be approving fees, but we have not seen this on their agenda in the past eight years. In addition, the board has discussed lowering fees, but they have not yet taken any action. Also, principals have discretion with some fees in their schools.

Your fee schedule should list which fees are voluntary and which are mandatory. You may
choose whether to pay the voluntary fees. The following information on both types of fees is
from the Jeffco Public Schools website:

  1. Mandatory fees: Requires payment of fees reasonably necessary for and reasonably related to the actual cost of textbooks or expendable educational supplies not provided free of charge as a condition of participation or attendance. Waivers of mandatory fees are granted for students eligible for free or reduced price lunch under the national income poverty guidelines - Board of Education Policy JQ. If other hardship conditions exist, the school principal should be contacted.
  2. Voluntary fees: Requires the collection of miscellaneous fees collected as a condition of  voluntary participation or attendance at a school-sponsored activity or program not within the academic portion of the educational program or voluntary participation in programs such as preschool, full day kindergarten and summer school.

A friend said that her child is a National Merit Scholar Finalist and her college education will
be free because of her test scores; are all students eligible?

Yes, the National Merit Scholarship program does provide full tuition to finalists of the program. Selection is based on the test scores of the PSAT which must be taken during high school and can be taken as late as Junior year.

About 1.5 million students take the PSAT and about 50,000 of them will score high enough to
be considered for the program. Sixteen thousand students, those with the highest scores in each state, will be invited to apply to become National Merit finalists.

About 8,000 students qualify as National Merit finalists and are eligible to compete for some financial award. There are $2500 National Merit scholarships. These are given to winners in each state and are not based on financial need, nor do they depend on where your child has decided to go to school.

The scholarship to which you refer is a College Sponsored National Merit Award. Your child must have selected a participating college as their first choice, have been selected as a finalist, maintain good grades, and receive an SAT score which validates the PSAT score.

So, although that sounds like a lot of hoops, thousands of full tuition scholarships are offered
each year and they are four year scholarships as long as students remain eligible. For details visit the web link and pay attention to the details: NationalMerit.org.