Regents approve tuition hike

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Tution was hiked 5 percent across the UA system by the Board of Regents at their latest meeting. The increase, proposed by UA President Jim Johnsen, was approved by the regents at their meeting Thursday, Nov. 10.

The 5 percent rise in tuition will be take effect for the 2017-18 academic year. Original plans had placed the tuition increase at 10 percent, but this was dropped due to student outcry expressed in a campus wide ASUAF survey.

A resident undergraduate taking 12 credits of lower division classes would see a cost increase of $115.20, where a student taking the same number of upper division classes would pay $139.20 over current rates. Students expressed mixed feelings about the increase.

“It’s a necessary treatment for UAF’s struggling budget, though not a permanent cure,” Adam Hall, a former biological sciences student said. “It has to be taken care of at the source, from the administrators and the board of regents themselves.”

“It’s not going to hurt as much as increasing it by 10 percent,” Colin MacDonald, a political science student said. “In my opinion, Alaskans have lived high off the oil hog for so long, now it’s time to pick up some of the slack themselves.”

Even with the hike, UAF tuition will still be under the national average based on other universities in the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

“Our commitment to students is to ensure that [the] tuition increase continues to be invested in quality,” Johnsen said.

Both Johnsen and student regent, Stacey Lucason, emphasized the need for efforts to ease the affects of the tuition increase for community college students, first-time and non-traditional students.

“A lot of students are concerned with the sticker shock of tuition,” Lucason said. “Especially students that come from households that don’t have a lot of experience with college.”

While the majority of the regents supported the increase some opposition was voiced.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t let the charade of students approving tuition go forward without a response,” Regent Kenneth Fisher said. “Such a slight minority supported that. If you think students supported this, walk around your campus or let themselves select if they want to pay for extra tuition. This is a facade to say the university supports it.”

Fisher was one of the two votes opposing the tuition hike.

“I think if you pose the question, ‘Do you want to pay more or do you want to pay the same?,’ of course everybody is going to say the same. But if you ask, ‘If you want to pay a little bit more or not have a class to go to?,’ everyone is going to pay a little bit more,” Lucason responded. “Students are willing to put it in when they see results.”

The newly appointed tuition increase was included in a budget proposal formulated by the regents Thursday and Friday to present to the legislature later this year.

Regents approved a proposed operating budget of $341.1 million. This budget would be split into three categories, according to regents, with $324.9 million for the base budget, $13.2 million for investments and $3 million for fixed costs such utilities.

Johnsen clarified these investments could include anything from building up student enrollment to placing a more significant focus on expanding research endeavors at UAF.

If legislators decline this budget, Johnsen says several smaller contingency budgets are under construction but his hopes are high.

The next Board of Regents meeting will be held in March in Anchorage.

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