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

The department is responsible for costs related to the development, instruction, and assessment of a course. The department and college are also responsible for the material costs of teaching the course, such as:

  • Course outlines, syllabi, exams, and similar handouts
  • Purchase, maintenance, and replacement costs of instructional and other capital equipment
  • Staffing costs, including teaching assistants and guest speakers

Course fees should not be assessed for the cost of supplemental written materials, such as supplemental readings. If the department does not wish to cover the costs of such materials, the materials should be sold to the students through the Iowa Hawk Shop and University Bookstore.

Request a new or modified course fee

The MAUI Course Fee Request Form is used to request a new course fee or to revise an existing course fee.

Authorization Procedure

Use the MAUI Course Fee Request Form to request a new course fee or change an existing course fee. The request must include a budget detailing what costs will be covered by the fee and a revenue estimate based on projected enrollments. If changing an existing course fee, any existing account surplus or deficit should be explained. All course fee requests go through workflow and must be reviewed and approved by the administrative home department executive officer (DEO), business officer, and academic dean, before moving on to the fee committee. The committee reviews each request and, if approved by a majority vote, forwards the fee request to the associate provost and to the senior vice president for finance and operations for final approval.

Workflow will notify the request initiator and the business officer of the final disposition of the request and keep complete records of the justification for any fee approved.

Fee approval will expire after five years. For example, a fee implemented for fall 2022 will be effective through summer 2027. To reinstate the fee, a new fee request must be submitted by the appropriate deadline.

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

  • For summer session and fall semester – Feb. 1
  • For spring semester – Oct. 1

Accountability Of 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.

Each course fee account free balance must be reviewed for reasonableness at least annually by the business officer or account owner, with further investigation occurring if the free balance is +/- 20% of annual course fee revenue. The business officer 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 canceled), 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 for the current session. 

Last updated 11/28/22