USUAA approves consolidated student fee proposal

The Union of Students at the University of Alaska Anchorage, or USUAA, voted 7-0 in approval of a consolidated student fee proposal for the university. The model aims to streamline the fee process for both students and the university.

“With 12 separate mandatory fees charged at varying amounts depending on course location, delivery method and total credit load, it becomes complicated for students to calculate the amount of their fees,” according to the proposal.

Of the $44.50 flat-rate fee proposed in the consolidated student fee model, $38.50 per credit would cover program services and $6 per credit would cover facilities, making all students eligible for program services. Image courtesy of the UAA Campus Consolidated Fee Proposal.

The consolidated student fee model proposes a flat-rate fee of $44.50 applied per credit hour to all credits regardless of delivery method, meaning students enrolled in eLearning courses would be charged the same fees as students enrolled in traditional courses.

Of the $44.50, $38.50 per credit would cover program services and $6 per credit would cover facilities, making all students eligible for program services. Services covered by student fees include athletics, Concert Board, ePortfolio, the Green Fee Board, student government, student health and counseling services, student media, technology, transportation, eLearning and enrollment fees.

“This is a way to say that we believe as an institution that these [services], as a package, are important and that students should be contributing towards that,” UAA Vice Chancellor Bruce Shultz said.

After reviewing the consolidated student fee proposal, gathering student feedback and meeting with Vice Chancellor Shultz, USUAA passed a resolution of support during their meeting on Jan. 31.

“It is not uncommon for the administration to bring proposals to our organizations and ask us what we think and ask us to solicit student feedback,” USUAA Vice President Brooke Hansen said.

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The current fee assessment model was approved by University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton and first utilized in 2004. The UA Statewide Office of Audit and Consulting Services Tuition and Fees Preliminary Audit report concluded that the current fee structure is “complex” and “burdensome” for administration and students. Over 6,000 students had incorrectly-assessed fees in fiscal year 2018, according to the proposal.

“The university spends a lot of staff time on correcting mistakes in billing that are a result of [the current fee model],” Vice Chancellor Shultz said. “If we implement [the proposed consolidated fee] model, it should take care of those mistakes.”

The estimated student impact of the fee consolidation is students enrolled in a higher number of online credits will see larger increases. Students taking fewer than six credits and more than 12 would see an increase as well. To ensure consistency, the senior citizen waiver would no longer be implemented for select fees under the proposed model, according to the consolidated fee proposal.

“Students enrolled in 12 distance credits will see an increase in the amount they pay. Distance students don’t pay, currently, for the student activities fee, the athletics fee and so forth,” Vice Chancellor Shultz said.

The proposed model is not intended to increase revenue for the university, according to Vice Chancellor Shultz. Since eLearning students would contribute to the student fees as well as the distance learning fees, revenue would remain fairly consistent. The current revenue collected from student fees, in fiscal year 2019, was $9,143,456. The projected revenue for the proposed consolidated fee model is $9,284,175.

“This change is not intended to increase revenue for the fee areas. It’s designed to produce the same amount of revenue as it does this year, based on our enrollment projections,” Vice Chancellor Shultz said.

Rather than a revenue increase, the proposed benefits of the fee structure include better predictability of attendance cost, consistency, a flat rate per credit, mitigated revenue loss from online courses and less confusion about the eligibility of fee-based services, according to the proposal.

The UAA campus consolidated student fee proposal will now go through the administration for review and decision making. Vice Chancellor Shultz hopes to implement the new model in the fall semester of 2020.