Ten years ago Betsy Jensen wrote a check for $88.50 to cover fees when her daughter registered for high school in the Provo School District.
Last week, it cost Janice Stoney of Highland $400 to register a son and stepson in American Fork High School.Like Stoney and Jensen, Utah County parents are increasingly alarmed at the high price of "higher" education. Since 1985, fees for high schools have not only increased by an average of almost 50 percent across the board, but the number of fees has blossomed.
At least this year, Stoney wasn't caught unaware. It shocked her last year to register her first high school student. "I absolutely died.
"It's devastating," said Stoney. "I said to the lady, `Well, so much for school clothes.' It's a killer, especially when you've got kids in both junior high and high school."
Stoney said her boys aren't involved in high-end classes or extracurricular activities that bring with them another whole tier of costs. "But my daughter will be interested in more of that. Then it'll really be expensive."
This year each of the three school districts in Utah County accepts credit cards, perhaps an-other sign of the times. Payment schedules can be worked out or fees can be waived if income levels are low enough.
For parents like Stoney, she and her husband make too much to qualify for fee waivers and dislike putting their bills in limbo.
"I'm just broke," said Stoney. "I told my kids, `Hey, just one outfit each, that's it.' And I made my 16-year-old work. I'll probably make my other son work too when he's old enough. This is just too expensive."
"I can't believe it. They're nearly double," said Sondra Green, an American Fork mother with five children still at home.
Classes that once were offered "for free" now carry lab fees, materials fees, special classroom charges and participation fees.
This is on top of fees that at least one parent in 1985 found difficult to pay. Sue Tandy, Provo District's secretary to the superintendent, has a penciled note on a student's schedule, "Father will pay $5 per month until paid," followed by a second entry, "Worked off by father."
The fees due totaled $52 for his daughter at Timpview High School.
Calculated on the 1995 rate schedule, the same girl's father would have had to work off $272, assuming she didn't buy a yearbook, make any class changes or register late.
Fees that had risen by $5 and $10 from year to year before 1992-93, leapt after the fee waiver policy took hold following a court ruling that brought public awareness of the 1986 law to the fore-front.
Students attending American Fork High School in the 1985-86 year could be assessed 10 fees. This school year students can be charged 30 different fees. At Provo High the number of possible charges has grown to 51.
The 1985-86 charges included an activity fee of $20, book rental of $25, a refundable deposit of $10, a handbook for $2, an identification card charge of $1, musical instrument rental of $35, towel and locker rent of $2.50 per semester, driver's ed fee of $12, a $10 transporta-tion fee for various sports classes and a $25 fee for being involved in football.
Here's a sample of some of the new fees:
Each class connected to extracurricular sports or performing groups carries with it a $25 participation fee. Most sports classes bring with them a trainer fee of $40. Foreign language classes at Provo cost $8 for the workbook. Russian language students pay another $18 fee.
The activity fee is $30, textbook rental has risen to $35 plus a $15 refundable deposit. A locker fee of $2 is charged along with fees per class such as an art and/or science lab fee of $10, drafting lab fee of $20 and home economics lab $10. Driver's ed is now $35. Music instrument rental costs $50 per year.
Then, just when parents think the worst is over, the semester ends and class changes bring a whole new wave of fees - due and payable before graduation.