A drive to persuade alumni and others to donate their state income tax rebate to Utah State University may end up costing more than it brings in, USU officials say.

Through the school's "What the Heck, Here's My Check," letters were sent to alumni and friends of the university asking them to turn over their check to USU.The state rebated some $80 million of surplus income tax collections.

Sid Smith, USU director of development, said last week the Salt Lake City public relations firm of Fotheringham and Associates was hired to carry out the campaign "because we did not have the time or experience to do this ourselves."

He said the campaign has collected $25,000 so far. He said he was not sure how much money has been spent but said it was probably at least that amount.

When asked how much USU was paying his firm for the campaign, Bob Fotheringham declined comment.

Fotheringham said the firm did not have a lot of time to do things usually done before implementing campaigns, such as testing the idea with focus groups and researching the effect of the name being used.

William F. Lye, USU vice president for university relations, said ideally, USU would like to have taken a longer time for the project, but said it was important to act quickly to catch alumni before they spend the rebate.

Lye said there are side benefits for the university.

"It was good public relations. We have had people donate who had never donated before and we are hoping more money will still come in," he said.