As a result of opposition by the Ham Radio Community and others to the FCC's recent license fee proposals, the FCC has lowered the proposed fee from $50 to $35. Not the perfect answer many had hoped for but a direct improvement. Details have not been finalized by the FCC, and we are told that we will get 30 days notice before such new rules are implemented.
What this tells me, is that if you want to get a new license, upgrade your current license, or apply for a vanity call sign, now is the time to do it as you still have a chance to do so before the $35 fees go into effect.
Because I wanted to know, I contacted Marty Pittinger KB3MXM, our MDC Section Manager and posed a series of questions on how this is likely to work. First you should be aware that the new fee structure is not just for ham radio, but for many other services as well. In other words GMRS, Maritime license holders and a host of others will pay the same fee we will. This legislation essentially turns the FCC into a Radio Spectrum Leasing agency.
Marty tells me it is not likely that the FCC will collect any fees via the VE Testing program. He believes the FCC will provide us with the ability to make electronic purchases using credit cards, debit cards and the FCC's "Fee Filer". For details see https://www.fcc.gov/licensing-databases/fees/fee-filer Apparently we will also be likely to be able to pay directly using the ULS and it's "Pay Fees System" found at https://apps2.fcc.gov/Batch_Filer
This new fee also applies to Club, Vanity and possible reciprocal licenses as well for foreign request. It will also apply to Amateur Radio Satellite call signs and High Altitude Baloon call signs. All radio control licnses and even future Drones with the new RFID tagging system will have to pay this fee. In short any change in an FCC license, other than things like address changes that you can make yourself online, will be subject to this $35 fee.
What we don't konw is whether this fee will apply to Special Event Licenses, however Marty suspects these we will be charged for as well, as the way the legislation is written the FCC does not have the ability to grant exemptions, though we are told there are some build in exemptions for educational users. Specail Event Licenses are part of what is called "Special Temporary Authority" or STA. Again this one is undetermined at the moment.
Marty has suggested we read http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-reduces-proposed-amateur-radio-application-fee-to-35 for more details.