When you matriculate in a traditional college program of study, you will likely spend a substantial chunk of money on fees as well as on tuition. Whether you’re taking one course or a full load of courses, paying these fees is unavoidable. Unsurprisingly, many students want to know where their money is going. Often, these fees fund facilities and activities around the campus. If you enroll in an online program rather than an on-campus degree program, you may wonder whether you will also have to pay fees that essentially fund finance these on-campus facilities, when you won’t be the one using them.

What Kind of Fees Are There?

Because many colleges never break down the vague fees that students must pay along with their tuition, according to USA TODAY, students typically don’t know where their money is going. These fees support everything from fitness centers to libraries, athletics departments to student activities, and, yes, the online infrastructure schools use to provide online classes.

Fees You Will Have to Pay

Which fees online students are required to pay varies by school. Some colleges require the same fees from online students as from traditional students. Others may waive some fees or impose additional fees related to online learning.

At most colleges, fees do not cover items like room and board, so it is unlikely that you will be able to get out of paying all of those fees simply because you will not live on campus. Similarly, many schools have policies in place that require online students to pay the same facility and activity fees as traditional students, because online students theoretically have the same opportunities to use school facilities as students enrolled in on-campus courses. For example, you could visit your college campus of your own accord to take advantage of recreational facilities and fitness centers. You may also be able to access some services, like library databases and tutoring services, online.

Whether or not you have to pay the same fees as students enrolled in traditional, on-campus courses, you may be required to pay a special distance education or distance learning fee. This fee can cost as much as a few hundred dollars per course, which can be an obstacle for students seeking an affordable online college. Distance education fees typically cover costs associated with using a virtual learning platform and other technology fees.

Different schools have different policies regarding the fees they charge. It is important to keep this in mind when you consider enrolling in an online degree program. Not only do schools differ in how they handle fees for online students, but some colleges within universities may charge students additional fees. For the most accurate information regarding your specific circumstances, ask an admissions officer, financial aid staff member, or academic advisor which fees will be relevant to you as an online student within your intended program of study.