USAO Regents Approve Fee Increases for Fall
Regents approved limited fee increases on Feb. 9 that will affect most but not all students this fall at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Overall, the changes could raise a student’s bill for the fall term by about $75, officials said.
Other tuition and fee increases could come later this year at USAO, but action was needed this month to meet a state deadline for changing any “non-mandatory fees” at state universities. A “non-mandatory” fee is limited in scope, while “mandatory” fees are charged to every student enrolled.
“For more than a year, we’ve made strategic budget cuts to protect programs and people,” said USAO President John Feaver. “As the recession worsened, we took the unprecedented step of asking faculty and staff to shoulder part of this burden through furloughs and pay cuts. Now, we’ll be asking students to help. And so far, they are responding positively. Clearly they understand the situation.”
Top priority at USAO is preserving the Mission Enhancement Plan, which is the college’s 10-year strategic plan for excellence, growth and advancement, Feaver said.
These fees were approved:
• ART STUDIO FEE - a $5-per-course lab fee that would help defray the cost of clay, metals and art materials. This new fee would affect both upper and lower division students.
• TUTORIAL FEE – a new $30-per-credit-hour fee for upper- and lower-division students in tutorials courses.
• MISSION ENHANCEMENT FEE – a new $10-per-credit-hour fee for upper and lower division students in all IDS courses. Since they are team-taught, these courses cost more to deliver. Some universities charge as many as five different “academic excellence fees,” amounting to more than $50 per-credit-hour.
• FRESHMAN EXPERIENCE FEE – a new fee of $25-per-credit-hour for freshman orientation (IDS 1001). This fee would affect freshmen only and would defray first-year orientation costs.
• PARKING FEE – A new fee of $30 per student per year. While USAO has never charged for parking before, a survey of other institutions shows that all peer institutions do, and some charge several hundred dollars per year.
Together these fees could raise $130,000 next year, a limited start toward covering the 5 percent reduction to this year’s budget almost certain to be continued into the next fiscal year, Feaver said. Including approximately $225,000 in anticipated mandatory cost increases for 2010-11, state budget analysts predict more cuts are coming.
“Our long-term goal is protecting the quality of USAO’s core programs,” said Mike Coponiti, vice president for business and finance. “If we are to advance the institution, and if appropriations from the state are to be cut in the next budget cycle, 2010-11, as projected, then we will be forced to consider increases in tuition and mandatory fees later this year.”
Still, USAO remains the most affordable public liberal arts college in America, Coponiti said, and it remains on the list of American colleges producing graduates with the “Least Debt” in U.S.News & World Report’s annual rankings.
If approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the new USAO fees would go into effect this fall.