Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to clearly identify that the SFAB determines solely student fee changes while administrators determine changes in tuition.
At the Truth in Tuition meeting Feb. 25, student leaders and administrators revealed that for the coming 2021-2022 academic year, the amount of tuition will be increased and student fees will be decreased, but the final cost has not been decided yet.
The Student Fee Advisory Board, which determines student fee changes, and administrators will propose their final decision to the Board of Trustees March 5.
Bryant Flake, director of planning and budget, said tuition can potentially increase from 3% to 7%. For residential students, this will add between $72 to $169 per semester onto tuition, and for non-resident students, it will add $231 to $540 per semester.
Flake said tuition on average increases by 4.5% every year, but this year it may have to be substantially larger because of the current circumstances caused by COVID-19.
He said about half of DSU’s funding is given by state appropriation from the Legislature and the other half is from tuition; however, because of COVID-19, the state had to set aside a portion of the money for colleges to help with the pandemic.
The administrator leaders were unclear about how much the state had to set aside from the college funds.
“COVID-19 came along and turned everything upside down; we were anticipating getting state appropriation and almost all of that amount ended up being cut, and then later in the summer they cut more from our base appropriation,” Flake said. “It did leave us in a position where we essentially lost over $5 million that we were counting on.”
Flake said this proposal is just a worst-case scenario. The 7% is only if the Legislature doesn’t give the university enough of an appropriation to help fund essentials.
He said the budget of $2.45 million, which is equal to a 7% increase in tuition cost, will be used for salary for full-time and part-time staff, faculty rank advancements, risk management insurance, Division I athletics, new student orientation, Banner software, and to pay for the student fees being absorbed into tuition.
Fees that may move from student fees to tuition are: I.T. Support, the Testing Center, the Tutoring Center, radio and broadcast advertising, fine arts, the Writing Center, the Dixie Sun News, and the AED.
Student Body President Penny Mills, a senior communication studies major from Orem and chair of the SFAB, said moving these fees was something that the SFAB has been wanting to do for a long time.
“I first want to make sure you know that overall, the Student Fee Advisory Board proposes a 5% decrease for the student fees in 2021-2022 school year,” Mills said. “Student fees will go down about $21.”
Mills said the Utah Board of Higher Education advised the SFAB to move certain resources into tuition because they relate more to what tuition covers in their funds.
Tuition is the amount students pay for their education and programs associated with education. Student fees are separate costs for student services outside of the education realm, more so dealing with events and student culture that a college provides.
“Most of the things that are moving are related to academic programs, which is what your tuition is for,” Mills said. “The Utah Board of Higher Education recommended moving anything academic or administrative to tuition.”
Paul Morris, vice president of presidential affairs, said even though tuition is going up students have to remember that student fees are going down.
Morris said since student fees will be going down by $21, that money will instead be going into the tuition funds to pay for the newly absorbed sections that used to be part of student fees.
“It isn’t quite as high as it looks like it could be,” Morris said. “Tuition is going up an equal amount that student fees are going down.”
DSU is waiting to officially decide what the tuition increase will be until they hear back from the Legislature later this month, Flake said. He said he understands why the state is being cautious and that he hopes this next year DSU will receive enough appropriations not to increase tuition by the full 7%.