Winona State implements mandatory graduation fee

Sophia Sailer, news reporter

Winona State University implemented a $25 graduation fee for seniors this year, marking the first time Winona State has done so in the institution’s history.
Jami Koivisto, the Senior Associate Registrar at the Warrior Hub, explained why the fee was chosen to be implemented.
“After reviewing what other campuses were doing to fund commencement/graduation, the Senior/Graduation Fee was created to align with other institutions in higher education including in the Minnesota State System and the University of Wisconsin System. Without the Senior/Graduation Fee, the future of how to fund diplomas and other graduation [and] commencement expenses is unclear,” Koivisto said.
Madilyn Rose, a first-year elementary education student at Winona State, said she worries about the new fee.
“I think the requirement of a graduation fee would be unfair to any student. There are already students who struggle to pay their loans back in a timely manner,” Rose said.
Koivisto said the fee will go towards the student bill, with non-payment likely resulting in the student not receiving their diploma and official transcript.
“Not paying this fee will not prevent a student earning their degree or attending commencement. This fee will be part of a student’s bill, which is never taken into account for commencement/graduation. Not paying this fee will prevent the mailing/receiving of the diploma and an official transcript,” Koivisto said.
Koivisto said COVID-19 was not a factor in this decision.
With the 2021 graduation ceremony set to occur online, Rose questioned why a fee would be mandatory.
Koivisto said graduation will most likely be online this spring.
“As indicated from the message from President Olson yesterday, Spring 2021 Commencement will be virtual. Celebration Packages will be available to all approved graduation candidates for Spring/Summer 2021 which will include a diploma cover, tassel, mortarboard/cap, an alumni pin, a Winona State window sign and a letter from President Olson,” Koivisto said.
Rose explained how much students already pay, and thinks adding on another fee, no matter how small, would be unfair to students.
“If I am paying a fee to graduate it may make me consider switching colleges. As a student we pay enough in tuition, textbooks, housing/dining. Adding another fee would be unfair,” Rose said.
Koivisto explained how students can feel safe during commencement while the virus is still affecting people.
“As Spring 2021 Commencement will be virtual, I encourage students to celebrate following CDC and MDH guidelines. This means still being able to gather with family and friends in small groups if they feel comfortable doing so, following safety protocols and guidelines. When on campus wear a mask, wash your hands and watch [your] distance and above all, enjoy this accomplishment,” Koivisto said.