School participation fees

Our first few years, the fee was about $20, and was basically the cost of the first t-shirt and goggles. It’s up to about $150 now as we had some sponsors drop out faster than we found new ones ca 2014-15, and now includes some travel and admin expenses; going to Bayou and Red Stick (day trips) only costs the students meal money. Wen we went to CMP, we had an amount that each student must contribute, either through getting donations/sponsorships or cash. Of course, these fees can be waived or reduced by the head coach based on financial need.

We tell our parents that we are the equivalent to a traveling sports team. If your kid plays a team sport that travels whether that’s for the school or not there is a fee required to join and travel expenses that the student must cover, as well as personal equipment.

We offer MANY opportunities for students to fundraise to offset their registration and travel expenses. We cannot, per school district rules, require them to raise any money. We lay out all of this in several meetings with parents and students before they join the team. Keeping everything transparent is the best way to make sure nobody is blind sided.

On my previous team (703) neither the school or the team charged students a participation fee. Depending on the teams financial status in a given year we sometime would charge students for travel costs for events, but generally we haven’t had to (having district events close enough to commute to helps a lot). In the past (pre-2009) we would charge students travel fees more regularly (since regionals were further away) but would offset the cost based on the number of hours a student put in, so students who showed up more paid less to travel.

The school does provide the team with a dedicated workspace + storage area and access to a large shared machine shop, and does not charge us to use any of it (they don’t provide any financial support however, so the team considers the use of the space to be the schools donation to the team).

I’m not familiar enough with how my current teams (5712) administration works, so I’m not sure if they charge students a fee (I’m fairly sure the school does not), the school does provide the team with a dedicated work-space (we’re moving to an even bigger room this year!) and access to a machine shop, and as far as I know does not charge the team for any of it.

All of any grants we write for are always followed based on the specific grant requirements that we have for our program. This is why we apply for support via the school, the program and/or our non-profit depending on the grant RFP’s.
For the specific rule you cite, its assuming that you reward based on how much a particular participant fundraises to determine the amount of support they receive through either our non-profit, or directly through the school our program is based out of. The registration fee is our school fee.
I believe we found a fair way to deal with this which is the exact opposite. Every member in our program is required to sell the same amount. All trips cost the same for each person and are optional.
We encourage students to fundraise on their own and we allow them to say they are fundraising in order to travel for robotics, but never saying they are fundraising for the team.
This is more work that no one on our team wants to do anymore because complaints from those that work hard/hustle vs. those families that dont came about several times in the past.
For all of the funding that we receive, our goal is to pay for everything robotics and cover certain aspects of travel such as car rentals, gas, FRC reg fees, etc. and they worry about airfare and hotel, minus any subsidies we provide to everyone equally.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?

We are a club, associated with the school, but run by a non-profit. We charge $125. We have a specific fund that allows us to waive the fee for those on free or reduced lunch.

What does your fee cover?

About 33% of our operating costs. T-shirt, 2 Qualification tournaments, and (if lucky) states.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?

Yes, we are so lucky.

Hey there, I am the coach/faculty adviser for 5202- New Ro-Bots. We do not have monetary dues for students, but we do have service dues. Our team has established a relationship with our city’s after-school program for middle school students, where the city provides our team with a set level of funding which is generally between $2000-$4000 (separate from school district funding) to provide two STEM focused 10 week after-school sessions a year. Rather than paying dues to be part of the team, the students are required to contribute their time to ensuring the success of the after-school STEM program (I actually do not have any roll in the program, it is completely student run). The funding provided by the city for this program is considered the dues paid for by the students.

Besides being able to participate in the FRC program, we use the money provided through this relationship to provide a team t-shirt to every student, and the team has provided transportation to each of our events (all local day trips).

When this opportunity presented itself, I thought that this was an important because it required the students contribute in a meaningful way to the funding of the team, but also recognized that our school has a large population of financially unstable families, and I did not want to create a situation where a student was restricted from participating because were unable to afford dues or feel uncomfortable when ordering team apparel because they could not afford it.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
School does not charge… We as a team do.
$150… it is the same as for the athletics. It goes directly to our Robotics team account.

What does your fee cover?
Covers a team shirt and all travel/food expenses.
Our team also covers all training and material expenses.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?
Yes… We have an old band room in an idle middle school. It is really a pretty nice space.

Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
We have had a fee of $250 for the past several years. Reductions are available based on free/reduced lunch status.

What does your fee cover?
Team uniforms and costumes, travel expenses, robot parts, event registration. Students are responsible for cost of meals when we travel.

Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?
I am the shop teacher and part of the engineering department. We have a renovated classroom shed and a wood shop, as well as an unused storage loft which we turned in to a robotics lounge and workroom.

Sorry for the necro post, but this was interesting to me:

Our team is considering a policy where students are responsible for raising some money, and if they don’t raise that amount, they themselves have to pay the remainder. The intention, as @waialua359 said, is to reward those families that put in the effort to fundraise.

Based on the definition of inurement in the link in the above post, this would at least not violate the private inurement rule. I am not a lawyer, nor do I know a lawyer I could speak to on this matter, so I was hoping others could provide feedback on this proposed fundraising policy.

Our team has a donation of 100 dollars that you can give but some don’t. It covers our one regional and a t shirt.Our school has a shipping container for us to work out of and the tech lab for business, coding, and electric teams.

@plusparth Is the fundraised money going to a non-profit?

Yes, the money would be going to our robotics booster club.

Read through this: http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/there-is-no-i-in-team-common-private-benefit-problems-for-booster-clubs/

A non-profit must benefit the members equally to maintain tax-exempt status.

wow, when you’ll see what we (and probably most teams in Israel) have to pay compared to the teams in the US as you described, you’ll be shocked.
Does your school charge a participation fee? How much?
Yes,and a big yes. Our team charges 1500 NIS (apprx 430 usd) for a whole season. And if we go to worlds (like this year) which is the other side of the world for us, we pay around 3,700 USD for the flights,food and hotel.
What does your fee cover?
This year our shirts and sweatshirts were funded by a sponsor, so each got 1-3 shirts and one sweatshirt. The fee covers the travel/(some of the food) to the israeli districts (2 districts and 1 dcmp).
Does the school provide dedicated space to your team?
Right now, we share our workshop with the school’s engineering class (But we used to have our own workshop, and the city promised to build a whole place for us with a workshop and a practice field but it never happened). The problem with sharing is that the class’s students dont really care about the class and they usually touch our stuff and break tools.

Our sponsors really help us with robot expenses,tools and etc, but we still have to pay a lot to really maintain the team in its current state

So this seems to be very clear that a plan like what our team wants to do is not allowed. However, I’m still confused about where the line would be for this.

Suppose I said that to remain on the team, all members had to raise some amount of money (the same for everyone) from wherever they please. However, if they did not raise that money, they would be removed from the team.

Would this be considered “private benefit?” (My opinion is no, as the benefit of remaining on the team isn’t financial.)

However, in this case, because of the strict fundraising requirement, students and parents may choose to donate that amount themselves to meet the fundraising requirement if they are unable to raise enough. Functionally, this is the same as the initial plan where we just outright ask the parents to pay the amount if they don’t raise it.

Would this be allowed under the IRS rules? It seems to me that since we’re not asking the parents to pay the money out of pocket, it would be legal.

For public school teams, note the legality of requiring fees/dues for participation in extracurricular activities varies by state. It’s okay in many states, but California is a major exception (a court found that fees to participate violate the state constitution even with the option for a waiver).

For this reason, our team has a requested donation amount of $200. It’s completely voluntary, and nobody is ever given different oppotunities on the basis on their donation. Even more than that, the donations are confidential to the point that only one teacher/mentor on the team has visibility to them. From Mike’s post back in 2017, it looks like 1678 does the same.

We have two fees:

  1. A school fee that covers registration as a club and such that we as a team have no access too.
  2. A team fee that provides for shirts, food, etc.

For FRC 1293, the fee varies with the year but this year is set on $60 (waived if someone approaches our teacher with a hardship situation).

That goes to things school funding is not allowed to cover, like robot parts. (District funding can go toward registration and travel, and generally is enough for one regional with travel or two registrations. We got fortunate last year to not have to charge kids for travel, but that varies with the costs and fundraising.)

The district provides a former classroom at one of the high schools, which we have converted into a dedicated shop space. We will sometimes colonize space just outside the building or in the hallway during meetings.

@plusparth Any sort of forced dollar amount fundraising can be off putting to your members and their families. We have a 4 funding sources in our organization:

  1. Membership fees required for each student in one of our programs (detailed earlier) that we waive for need-based children.
  2. Grants (both FIRST specific and non-FIRST specific)
  3. Company Sponsorships
  4. Fundraisers

At no point do we require any family to contribute extra money or participate in any fundraising activity. Instead we do our best to educate the families when they join about the costs associated with running a K-12 FIRST program and we get the help we need from the membership without a strict requirement.

Let’s say you require each student to fundraise $500. That amount could be pocket change to one family and a serious life-changing decision to another. If instead the membership understands the financial burden of FRC, that well-off family could donate a few thousand each season and those not as well off can still contribute by helping with grants, sponsorships and fundraisers.

You should consider having a parent meeting to get feedback from the families before coming up with strict financially based participation rules.

Also consider your fundraising goal to be the equivalent of two seasons to fund your upcoming season and some of the following. Keep that warchest full of money to handle whatever the economy throws at the team.

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