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AGO 1961 No. 47 - July 20, 1961
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

COLLEGES OF EDUCATION ‑- TOTAL FEES WHICH MAY BE CHARGED RESIDENT STUDENTS UNDER CHAPTER 13, LAWS OF 1961, EX. SESS

(1) Under chapter 13, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess., the legislature limited the total fees (tuition and other fees, except those specifically excluded) at the colleges of education for resident students to a total of $230.00.

(2) The limitation does not include fees which may be charged for summer sessions inasmuch as the act specifically excludes those sessions.

(3) All fees except those specifically excluded are included in the $230.00 limitation.

                                                              - - - - - - - - - - - - -

                                                                    July 20, 1961

Honorable Perry Mitchell
Acting President
Central Washington College of Education

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 61-62 No. 47

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested an opinion of this office on several questions relating to the interpretation of Senate Bill No. 24, Extraordinary Session, 1961, which limits the total fees which may be charged at the colleges of education to $230.00 per year for resident students.  Specifically you have asked:

            (1) Does this limitation apply only to the basic fees which are collected at registration time of all students?

            (2) Does this include fees which are charged for students enrolling for the summer session only?

            (3) Are the special fees, such as music, ROTC, college annual, graduation fees and other minor fees excluded from the provisions of this act?

            We answer all these questions in the negative with the slight qualification noted in respect to question (3) in our analysis.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            At its recent session our legislature enacted Senate Bill No. 24 (chapter 13, Laws of 1961, Ex. Sess.) which for the first time  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] authorizes the boards of trustees of the state colleges of education to establish, charge and collect general tuition and other fees from students attending the respective schools.  Section 3 (RCW 28.81.080) provides in pertinent part as follows:

            "The boards of trustees of Eastern Washington State College, Central Washington State College, and Western Washington State College shall, upon and after September 1, 1961, charge to and collect from each of the students registered at the respective colleges such general tuition fee and other fees as each such board shall in its discretion determine: PROVIDED, That such fees for quarters other than summer session shall be in at least the following amounts:

            "(1) Resident students

            "(a) General tuition fee, not less than fifteen dollars; and

            "(b) Other fees, an amount which, together with such general tuition fee will be not less than fifty dollars: PROVIDED, That the total of the tuition fees together with other fees shall not exceed an amount of two hundred and thirty dollars in any one year exclusive of the summer session.

            "(2) Nonresident students

            "(a) General tuition fee, not less than forty-five dollars; and

            "(b) Other fees, an amount which, together with such general tuition fee, will be not less than eighty dollars.

            ". . .

            "The term 'general tuition fee' as used in this section shall mean the general tuition fee charged students registered at each college for quarters other than summer sessions.  The term 'other fees' shall include all fees for summer sessions, short courses, correspondence or extension courses, and individual instruction and student deposit, disciplinary, laboratory, library, gymnasium, health  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] fees, and such other fees as may be established by each such board from time to time.  Such term 'other fees' shall not include fees, charges, rentals, and other income derived from any or all revenue‑producing lands, buildings, and facilities of each college, heretofore or hereafter acquired, constructed, or installed, including but not limited to income from rooms, dormitories, dining rooms, hospitals, infirmaries, housing or student activity buildings, vehicular parking facilities, land, or the appurtenances thereon."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is well established that the only object in interpreting or construing a statute is to ascertain the meaning and intention of the legislature.  Cory v. Nethery, 19 Wn. (2d) 326, 142 P. (2d) 488 (1943).  Our supreme court has said that in interpreting a statute legislative intent is to be determined from reading the act itself, construing the provisions therein according to their ordinary meaning, and giving consideration to the purposes and objects sought to be accomplished by the legislative enactment.  State ex rel. State Ret. Bd. v. Yelle, 31 Wn. (2d) 87, 195 P. (2d) 646; 201 P. (2d) 172 (1948).  If the language of the statute is plain, clear and unambiguous, there is no room for construction.  Parkhurst v. Everett, 51 Wn. (2d) 292, 318 P. (2d) 327 (1957);In re Baker's Estate, 49 Wn. (2d) 609, 304 P. (2d) 1051 (1956).  See, also, AGO 57-58 No. 45 [[to Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 8, 1957]]; AGO 57-58 No. 52 [[to Prosecuting Attorney, Pacific County on April 23, 1957]].

            We will now proceed to apply these rules in answering your questions in the order presented above.

            Question (1):

            Your first question is whether the $230.00 limitation prescribed in the above act applies only to thebasic fees which are collected at registration of all students.

            The legislature specifically provided that the total of tuition fees together with other fees of resident students shall not exceed $230.00 in any one year exclusive of the summer session.  By carefully reading and considering the definitions of "general tuition fee" and "other fees" set forth in the act, we find nothing to indicate that the "other fees" referred to were to be limited to the basic fees collected at registration.  In fact, it is our opinion that the legislature, through the above enactment, intended to limit thetotal of all fees, both tuition and other fees (except those fees specifically excluded) that may be charged resident students to atotal of $230.00.  Therefore, your first question must be answered in the negative.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            Question (2):

            Your second question is whether the limitation includes fees which are charged for the summer session only.

            We direct your attention to that portion of the above act which specifically excludes summer sessions from the limitation.  Thus your second question is also answered in the negative.

            Question (3):

            Your third question is whether the special fees, such as music, ROTC, college annual, graduation fees, and other minor fees are excluded from the provisions of the act.

            This question has, for the most part, been answered by what we have previously stated.  Suffice it to say,all fees including those stated in your question come within the scope of the $230.00 limitation since none are excluded from the definition of "other fees" found in the act.

            It should be mentioned, however, that we do believe the "college annual" may be excluded from the limitation, not on the grounds that it comes within the exclusion of the act but on the grounds that the college does not in fact charge afee for the annual.  As we understand the procedure, annuals are sold to those students desiring to purchase the same.  We do not regard this as a fee any more than would we regard as a fee the sale of any other book purchased by students attending the college.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

ROBERT J. DORAN
Assistant Attorney General

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