Students react to proposed student fee changes at open forum

Students attended an open forum in the Student Union Den on Monday, Oct. 29, regarding proposed increases to various, mandatory student fees.

USUAA President, Geser Bat-Erdene, moderating the open forum.
USUAA President, Geser Bat-Erdene, moderating the open forum. PC: Joey Carreon

The forum gave students the opportunity to ask questions and voice their opinions on student fee changes proposed by representatives from the five departments requesting a modification.

Mandatory student fees are reviewed every four years in order for departments to account for changes in their budgets. The departments who proposed modifications would increase UAA students’ ePortfolio, Technology, UA Network, Student Activities and Transportation fees. These fees, along with others, are a means of allocating revenue to respective departments’ budgets. The fees are paid, along with tuition, on a semesterly basis by each student. Some are paid by students enrolled in a certain number of credits, but every University of Alaska student pays for fees to a certain degree, since students might take advantage of services paid for by the fees, such as ones provided by the Student Health and Counseling Center.

Representatives from each department gave presentations highlighting their budgets and why an increase in their respective fees would be enable them to better serve the student body.

Parking Services director Glenna Muncy gave her presentation and explained that, given their recent budget deficits, Parking Services is requesting that the Transportation Fee be increased to $19 per semester for students enrolled in three or more credits, a $6 increase. The increase would bring an additional $114,000 in revenue to parking services, given the current enrollment level.

After the presentation, a student asked Muncy why all UAA students are mandated to pay the Transportation Fee if only a percentage students are taking advantage of services offered by Parking Services.

“If we go down, the whole ship sinks — not just the bow, so you have to keep the whole thing afloat. And one of the ways that we can do that is by distributing the cost,” Muncy said in response.

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The Technology, eLearning and ePortfolio fees were represented by Dave Dannenberg, director of Academic Innovations and eLearning. Dannenberg proposed that the three fees be combined, rather than be increased individually; this would allow for the fees’ revenue to remain constant amidst enrollment going down. Dannenberg proposed two methods for combining the three fees:

  • A flat $75 fee per semester capped at a maximum of $225 per year
  • $11 per credit hour with a cap at 12 hours and maximum of $396 per year

Upon being asked how the flat fee would be re-distributed to their respective departments’ budgets, Dannenberg would explain the process.

“The money would come in– and then once it was brought in, we’d divide it back out,” said Dannenberg.

The Student Activities fee was represented by director, Sarah Garner; Student Activities Coordinator Corey Miller; and Commuter Programs Coordinator Kojin Tranberg. Since the last fee modification from $3.50 to $4.50 for FY17 to FY19, Student Activities was able to accomplish almost all of their proposed goals due to the increase. Due to a decline in student revenue, however, Student Activities asked for an increase of $1.50, making the FY20 amount $6 for students enrolled in six or more credits.

The increased Student Activities Fee would go towards sustaining, growing and diversifying the programs offered by Student Activities, said Miller. The increase would also allow for Student Activities to accommodate for future factors that would affect their budget.

Students in attendance had no objections to the increase. Business management major Eileen Moring spoke highly of the increase at the forum.

“We’ve made a lot of cuts, and if there isn’t a fee increase, it’s just gonna be continually more cuts — less students working, less events going on — so there has to be that increase,” said Moring. “There’s so many great events. I think it would be a shame to have to lose out on them.”

Following this forum, each department will present their fee modifications at USUAA’s weekly assembly meetings in order to gain endorsement. USUAA’s endorsement will be one of the most crucial factors in the process these modifications take in order to be approved for FY20.

For questions and information, Student Life and Leadership can be contacted at (907) 786-1215 and [email protected]