CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Section III: User Fees for Extension Programs

Extension professionals have been supporting various local programs with user fees for many years. Generally these fees have covered a program's direct costs such space rental, printed materials, and meals/refreshments. Along with our focus on new grants and contracts as our primary targets for cost recovery, the strategic and selective implementation of user fees is also being encouraged. Determining when and what a user fee will depend upon:

  • the purpose of the program in relation to the public/private good continuum

  • the direct costs the unit(s) offering the program must recover

  • whether a state program fee exists for that specific program

  • whether other funds exist to offset the real costs of delivering the program

  • fees for programs and services of self-sustaining units

A. Types of User Fees

User fees primarily offset direct costs of programs at the point of delivery. Administrative/Indirect costs are not charged to user fees. Instead, state program fees, self-sustaining unit fees, and personnel time/travel are included selectively when establishing user fees for local programs.

  1. State program fees

    Each program area has a committee to identify programs that use a common curriculum or materials across the state that will charge a state program fee, and to determine what the state program fee will be. The state program fee may be set for each participant, as a flat rate for a program, as an additional charge for publications, etc. State program fees may be recovered through fees charged to participants or through sponsorships. State program fees will be returned to Extension Administration and distributed as follows: 90% of the funds go to the specific program area to be reinvested in programs; 10% of the funds are used by Extension Administration to be reinvested in program efforts benefiting the organizational overall. Not all program areas have established state program fees. As these fees are established, information will be distributed to Extension personnel and added to this document.

    (web links under construction)
    4-H State Program Fees
    Family and Consumer Sciences State Program Fees
    Agriculture and Natural Resources State Program Fees
    Community Development State Program Fees

  2. Self-sustaining unit fees

    So that OSU Extension to continue to provide specialized programs and services, some campus units have been asked to generate a portion of their operating costs with user fees. Each of these units is examining the kinds of programs and target audiences they have served in the past and is establishing fee structures. Among these units are: OSU Extension Data Center, OSU Leadership Center, Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic, Pesticide Applicator Training, and OSU Learning Centers. Each of the units is using the public good/private good continuum to determine what costs to recover in their fee structure. Local programs and organizations that work with any of these units to offer programming need to work closely with them to establish a means of recovering costs through participant fees or sponsors. These fees are returned to that unit to support ongoing operations.

[back to the top]

B. How user fees are used to support programming

State state program fees provide:

  • Funding for innovative seed grants that create new programming and applied research efforts
  • Continuing professional development to insure cutting edge technical expertise of Extension personnel
  • Support for team led program initiatives
  • Support for innovative teaching and learning strategies
  • New technology to make programs and materials accessible to the public 24 hours per day/7 days a week.

[back to the top]

C. Fiscal management of user fees

Generally, the home unit of the individual who plans and conducts a program is responsible for the fiscal management of user fees. When personnel from several units collaborate to offer a program, one unit must be identified to handle fiscal management. The User Fee Remittance Form is designed to assist in managing user fees and in determining if funds must be sent to the OSU Extension Business office for expenses to be paid to other units. This form is available on the Business Office website. All user fees should be remitted to the Extension Business Office, which will deposit the monies in a fund for the use by the County Extension Office only. Payments made to vendors, academic departments or other campus units will be made by the Extension Business Office upon request by the County Extension Office from the same fund.

Budgeting for personnel time in user fees

Pooled rates for salaries and benefits of Extension personnel will be calculated annually by OSU Extension Human Resources in consultation with the Leader, OSU Extension Business Operations. The list will eventually be posted on a password protected website for personnel access. Until that time, the list may be requested from Jacqueline LaMuth, Leader, Grants and Contracts.

District/State Specialist salaries and travel in user fees

There is no interest in recovering 100% of the salaries, benefits, or travel expenses of district and state specialists through local user fees. Each district specialist and state specialist is expected to support local programming and has a budget for that purpose. However, if the program's purpose is defined as private good rather than public good, it is appropriate to recover salary and travel costs through user fees. District Directors, Assistant Directors and Department Chairs should work closely with district and state specialists to determine what kinds of programming support can be expected without cost to the participants. If it is appropriate to charge for salary, benefits, and/or travel, the specialist is expected to specify what expenses must be recovered while the program is in the planning stages what expenses must be recovered so that those costs can be included when user fees are set.

Tools for determining user fees

OSU Extension Local Program Worksheet - for local use to help calculate program costs. This worksheet is available on the Grantsmanship, Contract Development and Resource Development website.

[back to the top]

D. Sponsorship of Fees

Program sponsors may be secured to pay some or all of the costs that would otherwise be recovered through user fees. Sponsors may include businesses, agencies, professional organizations, employers, associations, etc. Program sponsors should be recognized appropriately in program publicity and materials. Caution must be used to insure that sponsorship does not imply endorsement of a good or service provided by a donor. A disclaimer statement should be used on printed materials when a sponsor supports a program.

Example: References to program sponsor(s) are made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended nor endorsement implied.

When sponsors contribute to programs as tax-deductible gifts, the monies must be placed in an OSU Development Fund Current Use Fund. Contact the Extension Business Office for assistance.

[back to the top]