School participation fees

Our team is in it’s second year of competing in FTC. We have just been notified they are raising the participation fee per student. :ahh: As it’s a small school, hence small group, we are concerned that we will lose student participation. I would love to hear from others as we have a meeting with school administrators regarding this coming up.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?

What does your fee cover?

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?


Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
Yes, although I don’t know off the top of my head how much it is. It’s the same fee used for all other extracurricular activities at the school.

What does your fee cover?
The funds go straight into the team account. This covers items like team apparel, snacks during the season, etc.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?
Yes. The team was located off-site for a number of years. First in a parents garage, then the team got sponsorship from a building manager down town. After 3 years there, the school stepped in an signed a lease, taking over responsibility. After 3 years under the lease, a new STEM Center was built at the school, allowing us to finally move on-site.

We are not a school based team, we charge $140 in dues (This gets you a full year and one team shirt, additional can be purchased at cost later) and then 4H charges $20 for student sign up, so all in all it’s $160 for a full season. This doesn’t include travel unfortunately, but we work to get sponsors to cover some of the travel cost since we know that that is a big barrier for a lot of people. All together it’s not too expensive, especially considering most sports cost several hundred. The funds go to the team fund to help us meet our budget.

Unfortunately we also have to pay for our own build space since we aren’t a school team.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
We do not have a participation fee. The only costs are $250-$300 for worlds(mostly hotel fees) and if we ever need to stay at a hotel (other than worlds). We let team member fundraiser through various things like discount cards and working for a couple hours at a sponser, which helps students get money on their accounts so some don’t really have to pay anything

What does your fee cover?
Mostly the hotel for worlds.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?
No, we work out of a sponsor’s warehouse that provides a lot of room

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?

No. Our public school district does not allow any team to charge a participation fee. Instead, we recommend families donate between $500 - $2500 to our non-profit, but that is completely up to each family.

What does your fee cover?

Our donation pledges go towards our team general fund, which covers team travel fees (families are not allowed to pay directly for their student’s travel, per district rules), robot parts, outreach efforts, etc.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?

Yes. We worked out of a shipping container for many years, and finally got a dedicated classroom in 2015.



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The local FTC and FRC programs have some slightly different answers to your questions.

Locally, both programs charge a fee but the FRC one is more - I don’t know the specific amount off the top of my head.

The FTC fee pretty much covers everything unless the team advances to super-regional although the teams are limited as to how much special parts they can buy before they go out of pocket. Part of that is because the FRC team is helping fund the FTC program through their fundraising.
The FRC fee only covers part of the program. The team does a considerable amount fundraising that gets lumped in with the fee. Some part of travel is covered by the team - depending on how well the fund raising is going.

The schools provide space for both programs but in both cases it is shared space. The FTC program has the field set up and stores their stuff in a small room between two tech ed classrooms. While the teams are meeting they take over two of the three tech ed rooms. There is a new tech ed teacher this year so there is some flux there. The FRC program is in an Art room so everything goes in a corner during the day. This year there is a sculpture class in there first term but that is the only class. The team gets to spread out around the middle of November.

Edit - I should add the FTC program is in the middle school and FRC is in the high school so the two programs are in separate facilities.

The team members pay annual dues, I believe it is $25 per student. They are also expected to raise hundreds of dollars each, and attending an out of state regional is contingent on raising additional funds (another several hundred dollars). Arizona tax credit program make this relatively easy for most students, fortunately. This is for FRC.

We’ve had dedicated space part of the time, but right now, all our stuff is in a classroom, and it’s probably going to be a big problem this year…something about the coach (who’s classroom it was) quitting teaching right before the school year began. We’ll figure out something, though.

The school handles the team’s money, but does not contribute to it. We’re kind of financially neutral, to the school.

Yes, we are High School based program and have 2 fees.

A $50 school fee required for all students of teams participating at the school to cover facilities costs. We also have a Participation Fee that covers the costs of the robot, entry fees, t-shirts, tools and other misc costs. Our fee is relatively low ($150) thanks to our wonderful sponsors. Any travel costs out of the local area (Super-Regional or Worlds) are an additional fee.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
We are not directly affiliated with a school, we are a county team and run our registration through our local recreation department. We have a $250 registration cost, but have free/reduced costs for those who qualify for free/reduced.

What does your fee cover?
The fee gets students their 3 team shirts each year and the rest goes into the teams account and we spend it on various things like event registration, parts and material for robots, outreach event expenditures, travel, etc.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?

We have a space graciously given to us in the basement of an operating middle school, that we semi share with the tech ed teacher.

For the first time in our history, we are charging a registration fee for our program of $250 each.
But it covers uniforms, local transportation, some meals, etc. for the season.
However, each person can get $200 back if they sell all of their end of year luau tickets for our fundraiser…i.e. 5 tickets per family.
It rewards our students who hustle vs. the lazy ones.

We are a nonprofit and charge dues for each level of FIRST:

FLL Jr. $50
FLL $100
FTC $125
FRC $150

Dues get you at least 1 team shirt and are necessary “to keep the lights on” year to year (cover the nonprofit operating costs of $8k - $10k/year).


FYSA - Nonprofits that fundraise and reward certain families different amounts can get themselves in trouble (i.e. lose nonprofit status). There is a recent example of a gymnastics group that rewarded families based on how much they personally fundraised. They went to court with the IRS and are no longer a nonprofit.

If you are fundraising for travel, have a documented policy that the funds will be split equally amongst all students and be PAINFULLY CLEAR about your intention when fundraising. Some sponsors do not want any of their money going towards team travel. For things like this, I recommend having a conversation with a nonprofit attorney.

Joining a FIRST team is voluntary and so is the travel. Be careful not to break any laws!

The inurement prohibition forbids the use of the income or assets of a tax-exempt organization to directly or indirectly unduly benefit an individual or other person that has a close relationship with the organization or is able to exercise significant control over the organization.***

4159 is based at a public school, and while they never have explicitly charged for anything more than team apparel or some travel costs, the administration has recently made them change policies so that “no student of any socioeconomic background is unable to participate due to financial restrictions,” or something to that effect. Everything now must be done as a “recommended donation” instead.

While I’m all in favor of allowing every student the equal opportunity to participate in FIRST, what bothers me about this is that our charges were very minimal, and could be worked around. Even something like “travel costs” were nearly always covered by students doing fundraising for the team - put in effort rather than money, and you will be exempt from most payments. Now with the new administrative policies, I feel that it almost disincentivizes putting effort in towards the team, and we start running things at a loss if we don’t meet sponsorship quotas - and with fundraising requirements removed, we have fewer people willing to do them.

Regarding dedicated space: Yes. We have a shop, but it’s not large nor sufficient enough, though the students have started taking action to fix this and get a building more suitable than the almost closet space they currently work out of.

If we had better fundraising results no fee would be needed, but we need to raise a certain amount to be viable, and a student fee is presently our only option.

On a previous team, fundraising was not an issue, and so no fee.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
Neither team I’m on charges a participation fee.

What does your fee cover?
Currently we have no fee but instead do fundraising and work to get sponsorship money in order to cover the cost of parts and maybe food for a meet depending on the day.
The last couple of years our FTC team has had to require families to pay for travel costs to the competition though we hope to be completely financially independent this year.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?
Kind of. The FRC team has a dedicated build space at one of our sponsors buildings and is not affiliated with my school.
And FTC has no dedicated room in the school. Though, the teacher that hosts our team recently got moved into a room with a closet so this is where we are storing all tools, parts, robots, etc. this year.

As a team based in a rural farming community we simply cannot put the financial burden on families that other teams might do. We strive to be as inclusive as possible and rather send students out with skills they can use in the workforce rather than fancy team apparel and other unnecessary costs.

We only charge $10 for participating in our team to cover shirt costs. We ask that students come ready to learn and participate to the greatest extent in which they want to venture into the FIRST world.

I know some teams charge a “large” fee to be part of the team. There has been threads on this in the past. Often schools base fees on the SES of their student population. We have something like 85% free lunch. Our students families pay for almost nothing. There is no fee for the team, uniforms, travel, food… If our students had to pay to be on the teams we would not have teams.
That said I feel there are benefits to a fee. Students have skin in the game.

Our lead mentor (me) is a shop teacher so we are able to use my lab space for team activities.

Best of luck. I hope this fee doesn’t effect your team. The school board should think of this as extended education and therefor not require a fee.

The organization (Becker FIRST) charges a fee of $125/140 (FLL/FTC), but the school does not collect it as they do not provide coaches salaries. The school does provide space (classroom) but no equipment or lab usage.
As for our FRC team, we charge a fee ($165) but that goes right back into the team fund to help pay for materials, equipment, marketing, etc.

As a public high school, I’m pretty sure everything we do has to be a “recommended donation”. We ask for $100-200 per person at the beginning of the school year to cover expenses such as the robot, tools, supplies, etc. We project the total cost of attending each competition and then ask for an appropriate per person recommended donation so we net zero dollars.

We don’t charge a participation fee, but students are expected to pay for food and travel for regionals etc, (although financial aid is available for students that may not be able to afford it). This last year, it costed a student 400 ish to go arkansas, 275 to go to bayou, 275 to go to worlds, 175 to go an offseason in mississippi, and will cost them about 175 ish to go to an offseason in texas later this year.

We work out of and are a class at a California public school. Legally, we cannot require any fees for anything that is an integral part of the curriculum. We cannot require students to bring a notebook, binder, or even pencil. All we can do is recommend it. Anything that is required, the school must provide. Our costs of doing FIRST Robotics exceed $1,000 per student per year. The school covers maybe 25% of those costs. Thankfully, we have other sponsors as well, but we still need to ask for students to pay their own way for optional trips. All students get one T-shirt and one regional event free. Other events and apparel are optional, not related to the course grade, and are paid for by the students and their families.

When I attended the 2015 champs, I was somewhat appalled at the number of teams who charge students just to join, and the amounts they’re charging. It is so different from how things are done here in California, and for the ones that are affiliated with schools, I’m surprised they still get away with it in this day and age.