Tuition potentially on the rise
By KIERAN POULSON-EDWARDS
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
The University of Alaska Board of Regents has postponed its vote to approve a student tuition increase until January. At a meeting in Fairbanks on Nov. 8, student input pushed the board to delay the action.
“The only justification they put out before the meeting, really, was that they were trying to make tuition competitive with other schools,” said Calvin Zeulow, Vice Chair of the Coalition of Student Leaders.
“Most UAS students are taking classes where they can. They have roots here, they’re stuck here, they live here, this place is an important part of why they’re here. To suggest that people are choosing between paying tuition here and paying tuition elsewhere is just not how UAS works,” Zuelow said.
The proposed 5% increase would affect resident students in lower and upper division classes.
The Coalition of Student Leaders, a system-wide student government body, passed a resolution on Nov. 8, opposing the proposed tuition increase. This resolution asked the board to take more time for student testimony before it votes.
According to UA President Jim Johnsen, not raising tuition could cost the UA system 70 positions across the state. Zuelow said he’s unsure of the legitimacy of Johnsen’s claim.
“This was not said before the meeting,” Zuelow said, ”but this is the sort of communication that students want from the board and the president.”
Higher tuition would partially offset reductions in state funding, and would enable the university to become more market competitive in relation to other four-year universities that are part of the WICHE program (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education), according to the rationale given to the board and student coalition.
UAS Vice Chancellor of Administration Michael Ciri said 80% of the tuition a student pays goes directly into the program the student is enrolled in and the remaining 20% pays for other things on campus.
With budget cuts and student enrollment down by 10% from last year, a tuition increase would help pay for academic programs, he said.
Tuition has steadily increased since 2016. Students are concerned that another would make college unaffordable and enrollment would continue to decrease.