Regents Hear Students’ Wish List for Higher Ed

The Utah State Board of Regents and the Utah Student Association seem to be on the same page.

When the USA presented the Regents with its wish list Friday, it contained many items under Regent consideration?including financial aid, enrollment funding and restoration of the state’s 2.5 percent hold back.

Representing 135,000 students statewide, student representatives from most of the state’s higher-education institutions attended the meeting hoping to get Regent support for their proposals.

?We?ve worked hard to understand these issues. We hope to see action taken on our priorities,? said Ben Lowe, Associated Students of the University of Utah president.


The state’s slowing economy encouraged many non traditional students back into the classroom. The number of students enrolled at state institutions increased 7.8 percent this year.

Because the state follows a mathematic equation to fund enrollment, there is always a risk that an institution will not receive full funding. That was the case at the U last year. Enrollment figures were high, and the state allotted higher education more money than in any previous year, however, enrollment was only funded at 78 percent of the U?s projected need.

This year, the USA is asking for full funding for new enrollment and other students.

Believing that students are concerned about the quality of their education, the USA wants more money to make instructor?s salaries competitive in order to recruit quality faculty members and retain them.

The USA also called for the state to give back the 2.5 percent it held back in June. It wants more funding for libraries and operating costs.

Student Health Insurance

The USA also asked the Regents to conduct a study to determine whether or not a statewide student health insurance plan would be cost beneficial for students.

Health-insurance costs increased 15 percent last year. Premiums skyrocketed across the nation to cover the costs. Student health insurance doubled, leaving students with a plan the USA thinks is unaffordable.

Commissioner of Higher Education Cecelia Foxley said the USA had looked at doing the same thing a few years ago, but never followed through with it. Hoping the Regents could do something to relieve the costs, Foxley said she would be pleased to take another look at it.

Tuition and Financial Aid

The economy is slow?slower than it has been in our lifetime, Lowe said, noting, “We have to be realistic about tuition.”

Lowe knows college students at the U, and across the state, will inevitably pay more for their education next year.

“When the state doesn’t have money, tuition will rise,” Lowe said. The plan is to keep the increase as low as possible and fight for a link between tuition increases and state financial aid increases.

Lowe hopes the relationship between financial aid and tuition will be equal?meaning, if tuition increases 6 percent, state financial aid will also increase 6 percent. “Because there is no link, the state increases tuition without increasing the number of dollars given to students in financial aid,” he said. “This needs to change. It is unfair to students”

The USA believes students support “moderate” tuition increases. Moderate increases mean gradual, Lowe said. “Any excessive jump is unfair to students,” he said.

The USA asked the Regents to regulate tuition. The state and institutions of higher learning have the opportunity to impose tuition increases. The USA asked the Regents keep the statewide increase to 3 percent. It also suggested the Regents appoint a few members to study whether or not a cap on institutional increases would be feasible.

Foxley said she would provide two members of the Regents to investigate the options for an institutional tuition cap.

[email protected]