Students Could Bare the Brunt Economic Problems

Fiscal analysts suggest the best solution to the state’s higher education budget problems is a steep increase in tuition.

Analysts presented the 2003 fiscal year budget recommendations to the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee Friday. The analysts suggest students pay a 16 percent tuition increase to give institutions additional funding.

Without the tuition increase, institutions will face the problem of educating 9,000 newly enrolled students without an increase in money.

Analysts also suggested that the Utah System of Higher Education consider capping enrollment, imposing fees on students who retake classes to get better grades, charge extra for students who drop a class more than three times, increase graduate tuition and extend the amount of time it takes for students to become residents to enable the schools to charge more students out-of-state tuition.

The analysts’ plan creates more than the $49 million the state Board of Regents suggests the institutions need next year.

U student body President Ben Lowe said increasing student tuition 16 percent is “ridiculous.”

For U students a 16 percent increase translates into an additional $460 a year.

“I can’t take a suggestion like that seriously. That is too much. Students can’t take that large of a hit. It can’t be done,” Lowe said.

Commissioner of Higher Education Cecelia Foxely agrees that 16 percent is too much. She urged the committee to not place the bulk of the financial problem on the backs of students.

Foxely also encouraged lawmakers to refrain from making any quick decisions in the budget process because of the long-term consequences they may have on the state. She also asked lawmakers to avoid the temptation to limit presidents’ ability to distribute funding.

Lawmakers were sent away from Friday’s meeting with a suggestion to read over the budget recommendations and come back Monday afternoon ready to discuss higher education’s budget for 2003.

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