Johnsen reduces tuition hike to assuage students

Josh Hartman - Budget Proposals Graph.jpg

The Board of Regents has considered three budgetary scenarios depending on the funds coming from the state. The scenarios in order of decreasing amount of funds are “Investing in Alaska’s Future,” “Current State” and “Governor’s Guidance for FY 18". Josh Hartman/Staff Writer

The tuition hike proposed for next fall will only increase rates by 5 percent, down from the 10 percent rise proposed earlier this year. This hike, which would apply starting fall semester, will be proposed to the Board of Regents at their meeting this weekend by UA President Johnsen. According to Johnsen, the hike was reduced in response to student worries about the affordability of college.

“We are really working hard to keep the tuition increases reasonable,” Johnson said. “We’re the most affordable university system in the United States right now according to a major national study recently released.” .

Most students would support a tuition increase of between three and seven percent, according to ASUAF President Colby Freel.

Johnsen also worked with the Board of Regents to establish three budgetary scenarios for the next fiscal year, according to the Regent’s Budget Work Session document. The three scenarios are dependent on the amount of funding the state gives to the universities.

The goal of the first plan, “Investing in Alaska’s Future,” is to expand the university to more people, however, it requires that the universities get $341.2 million from the state. This year UA received $325 million.

The second plan, called “Current state,” assumes that the universities will receive $335 million from the state in the 2017-2018 school year and will receive less funds in the following years.

The last plan, called “Governor’s Guidance For FY18,” is assuming that the UA system only receives $293 million for the 2017-2018 school year, as proposed by Governor Bill Walker.

“[The last plan] would require immediate high impact program cuts, elimination,” reads the work session document.

“The heart of our strategy over the next ten years is to drive enrollment up,” Johnson said. “We benefit financially more by having more students come than by increasing the rate of tuition. That’s a key part of the plan I presented to the regents yesterday.”

There are 115 thousand Alaskans with some college experience and no degree, and helping those people complete their degree is a top priority for the UA system, according to Johnson.

Johnson has stated that what is important to getting increased enrollment is to look at the problem from a marketing standpoint—to make it convenient for students to join the UA system to get through their program seamlessly while maintaining the academic rigor of the programs.

“I think it’s important to remember that nothing is set in stone, the board of regents still has to make a decision,” Freel said. “We can affect change, I think it’s a very dangerous idea to think that there’s nothing we can do about something we don’t like. That’s simply not true … If enough people want change and are willing to work hard for it, it can happen.”

The Board of Regents will be meeting on Nov. 10 and 11, on the first day the Board will have an informal public gathering from 5:30 – 7 p.m. in the GLOBE Room of the Elvey Building. The regents will discuss various topics including the 5 percent tuition increase and the budget for 2017.

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