Questions and answers about fee generation
Following are answers to questions that have been submitted to the fee generation committee during the policy development period. More questions/answers of statewide relevance will be added to this page throughout the transition period.
If you would like to submit a question to the committee, please send it to Carol Heffner, email@example.com
(Note: Question 17 was updated 1/14/2013)
Will every specialist and every office be required to follow the same policy?
Yes, the policies and procedures that have been developed for generation of fee revenue will apply to all faculty and staff within MU Extension.
- What about those who are unable to pay?
We will need to be sensitive to keeping our programs open to all.
- How will we know if they are unable to pay?
The same way we currently determine if clientele are unable to pay: we listen.
How will required fees be determined?
Fees will be determined in two ways:
First, through program committees called together by program directors to review individual programs. These groups will consider the public good aspects of the particular program, calculate the costs of the program, and make determinations regarding what if any fee should be charged for the program they are reviewing.
Second, in cases where individual faculty have determined that they are conducting a program for which a fee should be charged they will complete a standardized calculation sheet identifying the costs of the program and the fee that was charged.
Reference to the transition document will be helpful in regard to understanding the establishment of fees and the timeline for adoption.
- Will fees be based on region?
Programs for which a state level base fee is determined through the use of a program committee will not have a "regional rate." However, each program that has a state mandated base fee will have the flexibility to add local costs into the total fee charged, and these local additional costs may very well vary by region and or county.
- Are people in NW Missouri able to pay the same amount as West Central for a program? (My point is that income levels differ greatly depending on region and county)
We acknowledge that income levels differ across the state. We also recognize that cost of living expenses vary across the state. State and regional specialists will have the flexibility to adjust the local fee charged above the statewide base fee to match local market. We expect that we can market our programs as a value for the fee charged.
- Will we have the same standardized curriculum for each program?
Many named programs already have a standardized curriculum. Determinations will be made regarding whether a statewide base fee will be established for each of these named programs. Curriculum decisions are made by the Program Director, state and regional specialists. State and regional specialists will continue to have the flexibility to develop programs that do not have standardized curriculum. They will complete the budget worksheet and submit to the appropriate supervisor for approval.
- Who will receive the funds generated?
Funds generated by programs will first cover the host's out-of-pocket costs, then be distributed on a prorated basis dependent on the input costs associated with the program.
In cases where there is an established state base fee for the program, the base fee per person will be collected and paid to MU Extension on campus. The increment added to the base to cover local costs will be retained by the host.
- Will the county offices receive the funds or will they be sent to the state office?
The intention is for all those who bear costs in the carrying out the program receive a portion of the revenue generated by the program.
- If it is all sent to the state, how will County Commissioners feel about that?
First, all money collected will not go to MU Extension on campus.
Costs incurred by the local office acting as host will be covered first.
MU Extension leadership is committed to speak one on one with county commissioners. We believe we can explain to commissioners' satisfaction the structure and reasons behind fees.
- And what about county offices that are having difficulty “paying the bills” how will this affect them?
We continue with a transition to roll out fees guidelines in order to be sensitive to the fact that each county is starting from its own unique position regarding fees. It is expected that the transition time will allow counties currently in financial difficulty to make plans that prevent the change in fees policy to be unnecessarily burdensome.
- What type of record keeping will we have to do? Days are already very full, there would be concern if we are spending a lot more time keeping records.
We do not anticipate additional record-keeping by councils will be needed. Councils currently record income and expenses in QuickBooks. Attendance is recorded in WebApps. The online fee generation worksheet will allow for organizing this information online. Remember that for named programs where a statewide base fee is established, the only information needed is the number of participants, the fee per participant for the program and any local costs to be covered.
- If we raise money by fees what are we going to do with the funds generated?
The use of fee revenue will be dictated by the highest priorities of the overall organization. We recognize that we receive appropriated dollars from the federal, state and county governments – these resources allow us to conduct many public good programs that would not be able to exist without the public support. We also believe that there are some programs that have a private good aspect, in those cases we want to collect funds that could then be used to further the overall mission of the organization. This diversification of revenue sources is intended to create greater stability in the programming efforts of the organization.
Over the last several years we have seen great success in grant funding for programs, this resource has allowed for realignment in the use of general resources and expansion of total program impact. It is hoped that the use of fees will have the same kind of impact – give us foundation for making the good better and potentially increase our program impact.
- How similar or different is the Missouri Fee Model/Procedures to what Iowa State University Extension implemented?
The component of our plan that is most similar to the Iowa model is that we ask faculty to complete fee generation worksheets for the programs where they collect fees and remit a portion to the University. The difference in that component is that we are phasing it in versus it being immediately required.
Other differences in our strategies and those taken in Iowa are:
- the comprehensive review of all programs to determine fee potential
- the plan to initially set base fees for some programs
- the gathering of data to inform future decisions where fees are concerned
- the recognition that partners cannot change their current revenue plans immediately
It should also be noted that the idea of collecting fees for programs did not come to Missouri with Dr. Ouart; the revenue generation committee that worked in Missouri in 2002 and 2003 had fees as a component of our growth strategy. The work of the committee was implemented in the areas of grants and gifts over the last number of years and this roll out of a fees initiative fits well with the prior work done on this topic.
- Will Extension administration set quotas/targets/goals for fee amounts collected for specialists?
We ask that every faculty member think about their opportunities for revenue generation within their programs. We understand that in some situations fees may play a significant role in possible revenue generation and in other situations revenue generation possibilities may be more grant or gift related.
The goals individual faculty members set for themselves should be established in communication with their regional director and/or program director. These goals will not be established across the board by Extension administration for all specialists.
- How much money are we trying to raise?
It is no secret that the budget pressures at the state and local level are significant, but the fees initiative is not designed to fill a specific budget gap. We are attempting to examine this potential revenue source carefully and raise funds where it is reasonable to do so.
We do not believe increases in fees collected will be the answer to any and all budget issues we face, but we do believe we would be remiss in not working toward collecting all the fees we can in situations where it makes sense and doesn’t damage our other current revenue sources.
- How can a county office accept credit cards?
Credit card processing options are available; refer to the staff resources page here for more info.
- How do I report fee generation distributions in Quickbooks?
To be consistent for all extension offices we recommend creating a new expense account in the QuickBooks chart of accounts. 7999-Fee Generation Distribution. Instructions for creating the new expense account are located at http://extension.missouri.edu/acctmanual/General/Fee_generation.pdf.