Editorial: Every student attending South Dakota State University pays the General Activity Fee (GAF), yet students don’t know what it is or where the money goes.

The question on a majority of students’ minds is: where does my money go?

Students pay thousands of dollars to attend South Dakota State University, but they are unsure of where their money is allocated and how they are affected by those funds.

A popular complaint at SDSU and other universities across the country is the rising cost of General Activity Fees. This fee is a per credit hour fee that goes toward student programs and initiatives. It is allocated by Students’ Association, the student governing body.

Each student at SDSU pays $33.90 per credit hour each semester. If a student is enrolled in 15 credits then they will pay $508.50 per semester. But what does this fee actually do?

This fee goes toward paying to get into athletic games, Title IX services, use of the Wellness Center, maintenance and repair of the Wellness Center, a Wellness Center expansion, University Activity Fee Budgeting Committee (UAFBC), risk management, career development, intramurals and paying the debts of The Union.

We, at The Collegian, believe this fee is necessary to have a quality experience while at college. Paying $33.90 per credit hour is really not that much money, but it is definitely enough. 

Each area that is covered in the GAF impacts a student’s life at SDSU. 

Students wouldn’t be able to get into football, basketball or any other athletic game for free without the GAF. Students have a “free” membership to the Wellness Center. UAFBC, a Students’ Association committee, distributes money to student clubs and organizations on their yearly budget as well as allocates other amounts on occasion.

Yes, this fee contributes to the expensiveness of college, but our experience as students would be dramatically different without the GAF. The GAF we pay as SDSU students is the second cheapest in South Dakota. Northern State University has the cheapest GAF at $30.10 and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology has the most expensive GAF at $47.30.

However, we do see some areas the university and SA can improve in terms of the GAF.

Most students don’t know what the General Activity Fee is, and even if they wanted to know, they have to sift through a multitude of documents on the sdstate website before they find something related to the GAF. It should not be difficult to find this information; a breakdown of the GAF should be readily available for students.

If students are upset with how the fee is allocated then voice your opinion to SA. They are speaking on behalf of the students, and if students don’t agree, then we as students need to be willing to make a change.


The General Activity Fee is justified because it goes to student programs, but the purpose of this fee should be better communicated to people who have to pay it.