Student Center Cost Model
Overview of Costs for UHCL Student Center Initiative
The primary expenses in UHCL's Student Center include the construction and ongoing operation costs. The third essential piece is the vehicle by which you generate the required revenue to pay for these two primary costs.
The core elements of a building construction are:
- Soft Costs – Soft costs include the various costs that are necessary, but are not actual land improvements, construction, and Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment (FF&E). Examples include programming and architecture costs, moving costs, abatement costs, project management costs, and contingencies reserves.
- Site Improvements and Demolition of Existing Structures – At UHCL, the site was chosen per the University Master Plan (a guiding document for the future planning and growth of the university), which was developed in 2017 and took over a full year and engaged numerous faculty and staff voices. More importantly, the plan included many student voices. The site is currently a parking lot and has not been prepared to support a 3-story building or the water runoff,
- Building Construction – Current construction cost estimates range between $800/SF and $885/SF, depending on construction cost inflation between now and the actual time of construction. These figures consider current and historical construction cost escalation rates covering the 2022 year through the 2027 year. These factors calculate a total construction cost between $54 million and $60 million.
- Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment – This includes the movable furniture, fixtures, or other equipment that have no permanent connection to the structure of a building or utilities but are needed for the functioning of the building after it opens.
Operations costs include such costs as utilities, custodial services, building maintenance, consumable supplies, and facility management staffing. Other operating costs such as programming are currently covered by the Student Services Fee which funds student organizations, student groups, and Student Affairs professional staff.
How Funding University Auxiliary Spaces Work
What is an auxiliary space? There are essentially two types of spaces on a public higher education campus: education and general spaces and auxiliary spaces.
- Education and general spaces are constructed and maintained by the state. Their construction if funded by the state, and their ongoing maintenance and operation is funded either from state funds or tuition and academic fees paid by students.
- Education and general spaces are used primarily for the primary mission of the university, the delivery of academic courses, research, community services, student services, or supporting administration.
- Auxiliary spaces are constructed from fees paid by students or other revenue sources such as parking permits or housing remittances for residence halls.
- Auxiliary spaces are owned by those auxiliary operations and are for the dedicated use of students to support them in achieving their academic goals. Other parties such as the university can use auxiliary spaces, but as they are funded by students, they must be rented by the university when used for university uses.
State funds, tuition, and academic fees, which are all education and general sources, cannot be used to construct, maintain, or operate auxiliary spaces, they must be fully self-supporting through the revenue from fees, or in the case of a residence hall, rental of rooms or in the case of Parking and Transportation, the sale of parking permits.
Doesn't UHCL Already Have a Student Center Fee?
Yes. The Student Services and Classroom Building, or SSCB, was approved in the early '90s, and opened in 1995. That building currently serves as the UHCL Student Center. However, only a portion or approximately 1/3 of the total square foot space (or 23,000 square feet) of that building is assigned as the UHCL Student Center. The balance is an academic and administration (Student Services) building. As such, only that portion that is a Student Center is funded from the existing Student Center Fee. The current fee was established following a successful Student Referendum and authorized in Texas Education Code (Section 54.540: Student Center Fee, University of Houston-Clear Lake). It is limited at $40 per student each semester. That is insufficient to build an 80,000 square foot building at current construction costs. That is why this referendum is required, in order to gain authority to increase the existing fee above the current $40 ceiling.
Because a Student Center Fee would be charged to all students without exception, similar to the UHCL Recreation and Wellness Center Fee, there must be a successful student referendum to approve the fee before such a fee can be implemented. This is unlike a parking fee, which is technically not a fee, but the sale of a parking permit. Any student can choose to identify an alternate way to come to campus for their courses without requiring them to purchase a parking permit. Because that is considered optional vs. mandatory, no referendum is required to approve that "fee."