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Tuition may be frozen at California schools, but the actual expense to students is still increasing despite this measure.

In 2012, the legislature allowed state schools to charge students "success fees." On some campuses, this fee can amount to thousands of dollars a year. Observers speculate that the "success fee" is just a backdoor method of increasing tuition; the only difference is that no one has to vote to approve a "fee."

In a similar move, homeowners may soon be required to pay an additional $75 filing fee when refinancing their mortgages.

An even better example of a latent fee structure is a traffic ticket in Lamont or Shafter. Overall, the influx of "penalty assessments" has quadrupled the cost of many tickets in the last ten years alone. There may be no relief in sight. A 2006 report predicted that penalty assessments could generate as much as $500 million per year.

PAs are set by the state and funnel money to previously earmarked projects. Typically, a traffic ticket in Kern County or Tulare County may include $20 for DNA testing, $30 for new court construction, $40 for judicial salaries, and the list goes on and on.

Interestingly, an attorney regularly practicing in Mojave may be able to use PAs to your advantage. With the cost of tickets rising, more and more people are choosing to hire an attorney to deal with their traffic citations. The heavier court docket puts more pressure on the courts to get through cases quickly. This may allow an experienced traffic attorney to get a better resolution on your traffic ticket through trial or negotiation.

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