Student fees may increase next year

The Undergraduate Student Government will not vote on proposed student fee increases until the group has more time to discuss the figures, said USG Vice President Spencer Tribble.

Auxiliary members – representatives from departments such as the Student Center, Student Health Center and athletic department – requested a 3.1 percent total student fee increase at the USG’s first meeting of the semester Jan. 31. The fee increase would be a total of $57.40 per student from current fees, including student insurance.

Tribble said he understands students may not agree with the student fee increase, but he doesn’t think the increase would be considered negative.

“To a certain extent I understand the need to increase fees on a university level,” Tribble said. “I’m not against the fee increase because I know a lot of students, including myself, who don’t have insurance coverage outside of the insurance that you have with the school. So it’s a plus to be able to go to outside hospitals and get expenses covered.”

While the fee increase may be beneficial and necessary for various student services, Tribble said students should be able to see where their money goes and witness the breakdown of the figures of where the money is allocated.

Tribble said bills, maintenance and the cost of living have gone up so he understands the increase, but students may not be happy with the raised athletic fee because not everyone attends sporting events and the teams are not always very successful.

Mario Moccia, director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said the cost of gas, food, bus companies, hotels, airfare and employment go up every year, which causes fees in the athletic department to increase. He said last year the department had to pay $225,000 for student workers and this year it had to pay $300,000.

Intercollegiate Athletics also pays a portion of its budget to the band and spirit groups, Moccia said.

The extra fee increase from students, he said, would keep the athletic department’s head above water.

The athletic department has cut five positions in the department and held two positions that are open for hire.

“We have cut about as much as we think we can, and still remain competitive athletically,” he said.

Lori Stettler, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary services, said her department is fully aware fee increases may have an affect on its affordability for students. But without fee increases for renovations, she said it’s difficult for the department to keep up with competing businesses.

She said items such as more energy efficient lighting upgrades, chair replacement in the ballrooms, repairing of the bookstore’s loading dock and more are reasons why a fee increase for the Student Center is necessary.

“No projects that are real pretty or will be real obvious from that perspective are being done, but they are all necessary for the maintenance and upkeep of a 50-year-old building,” she said.

Jim Hunsaker, assistant director of student health services, said any increase in fees isn’t popular, but he thinks USG and Graduate Professional Student Council members understand the value of the student insurance plan from the Student Health Center.

“Our fee doesn’t go to fund anything but the insurance fee program,” he said.

About $7.8 million was paid in claims last year, Hunsaker said, and those were claims for students that otherwise would not have been covered by any insurance.

He said he thinks the student insurance program goes a long way with the student retention rate because it keeps students here who may have to withdraw for medical reasons.

The insurance plan covers emergency and specialty care as well as things that cannot be preformed at the Student Health Center, such as diagnostic care like MRI and CT scans.

Simone Biles, USG chief of staff, said she doesn’t particularly like the idea of having to pay more money, but she understands things being implemented need funding.

“Students have to be smart about where we are spending our money and make sure we are educated about where it’s going,” she said.

 


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