Sometimes the Truth hurts

The average full-time student will be paying at least $300 more in tuition and student fees next year.

At Friday’s annual Truth in Tuition meeting, David Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs, announced increases in tuition for the next academic year.

He revealed the university’s plan to increase tuition by 8.47 percent for in-state undergraduates, 8.50 percent for in-state graduates and 9.14 percent for all out-of-state students.

“The news is not great; I apologize for that,” he said. “I never believed that I would be standing here, having to say we are proposing to increase student costs this much.”

Pershing said increases in tuition costs stem from the Legislature’s decision to focus on tax cuts and funding for state roads and water projects.

“Going into this legislative session, I did not believe we would be dealing with numbers this big,” he said. “What the Legislature did was a little different this year.”

The Legislature only completely funded the U’s fuel and power monetary requests, and the university only received half of the requested amount for compensation and operations and maintenance.

“They gave us nothing for faculty, advisers and programs,” he said. “That was a big disappointment for us.”

Because of this, second-tier tuition-tuition imposed by the individual institution-will be a large portion of students’ costs.

Second-tier tuition will make up part of unfunded requests, such as money needed for faculty retention, academic advising and the writing program.

“Portions of the tuition will also fund faculty in critical crunch areas, such as communication and business,” Pershing said.

Despite this year’s increase in tuition and increases in previous years, administrators believe the U is a good deal.

“We are still a really big bargain,” Pershing said, in comparison with other research universities of the U’s size.

At the meeting, Pershing presented statistics showing the U to be the second-least expensive institution compared with similar universities. Only the University of Florida has a lower cost.

“We are still well below the national average,” said Paul Brinkman, vice president for budget and planning. “From that standpoint, it is consoling, not alarming.”

Whether or not the U is still a bargain, tuition increases will put a financial strain on many students.

“The administration knows tuition is difficult to pay,” Pershing said. “But I really would hate to think that the increases we have to do would come back to convince students to leave the university.”

However, for students such as Kurt Radmall, a senior in communication, this tuition increase could hurt an already bad situation.

Radmall said he already struggles to pay tuition. He has taken a semester off and currently takes a small enough class load to allow him to work 50 hours a week to pay for school.

“This will make it harder; I don’t know what I am going to do,” he said. “This whole situation seems ridiculous. I am outraged.”

The only good news presented at the Truth in Tuition meeting, Pershing said, was the relatively small increase in student fees and a positive outlook for the future.

“To try and mitigate student fees, ASUU has held student fees way down,” he said. Student fees are expected to increase by only 3.17 percent, or about $20.

As for tuition in future years, U administrators hope that the increases in tuition over the past few years will result in smaller tuition increases down the road.

“When you look at tuition increases historically, there have been a number of large spikes followed by smaller increases,” Brinkman said. “There have been years when there is no increase or very small increases.”

“I hope not to have to talk about numbers this big next year, but I said that last year,” Pershing said.