U Students React to Gov. Cox’s Proposed Tuition Freeze


Kevin Cody

A view of the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City on Aug. 21, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Caelan Roberts, News Editor


In Gov. Cox’s most recent monthly news conference, he proposed a tuition freeze for next year, meaning public universities in Utah would not be able to raise tuition. In light of President Biden’s recent plan to forgive student loan debts for qualifying borrowers, he proposed this as an alternative solution for financial relief for college students.

Taylor VanderToolen, president of ASUU, said that while this proposed freeze will benefit students, it’s also a balancing act with budgeting for the university.

“I sit on the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Trustees and other different governing bodies such as the Academic Senate, they will all work to either raise tuition or to raise fees and they vote on whether it’s going to be necessary that year, and by how much,” he said. “And in the discussions that we have around it are a lot of times that there are big initiatives that we want to be pushed, maybe we want to build a new building, or we want to provide more services.” 

The Utah Board of Higher Education also meets yearly to discuss tuition, and earlier this year approved tuition increases for most universities in Utah. VanderToolen added that raising tuition is only one lever the U can pull to raise the funds for those initiatives, in addition to increasing the number of students on campus and donations and state funding. 

VanderToolen also said the state government also recently mandated a 5% salary increase for all staff at public universities, but only funded a 3.5% increase, and while he is happy the state is supporting the U’s students and staff, he hopes that they’ll provide more support for the university itself.

“I’m happy as a student body president that now we don’t have to look at the possibility of us having to raise tuition for students,” he said. “However, it’s also going to potentially come at the expense of increased programs and increased prestige … It definitely just kind of puts the university in a corner where it’s going to be a little bit harder in order to figure out how do we accommodate for these costs, and that’s why I would really like to see the state legislature coming in to help with that.”

Despite the issues it raises for the university’s budgeting officials, the proposal is welcomed by students.

Raymond Sarlatte, second-year English major, said while he gets discounted out-of-state tuition, fees for his dorm and his food plan add up.   

“If they’re passing legislation that makes it so that the university can’t be more money hungry than they already are, that’d be awesome,” he said.

Sarlatte added that while he isn’t extremely weighed down by the financial burden of college at the moment, the tuition freeze would be beneficial to him by lowering the amount of student loans he’ll need to take out during his time at the U.

“I kind of put it like, out of sight, out of mind kind of a thing, but it’s one of those things that’s just going to be weighing on me in the future,” he said. He added that he feels that students at the U pay a lot of money, but it doesn’t often go to the things that they’d like to see funded.

“We’re paying so much money and none of it goes towards things that we actually need in the school, like they’re destroying parking lots that we actually needed and replacing for housing because they don’t want to be a commuter school,” he said. 

VanderToolen said this is another major benefit for students, that the U will now be looking for and removing inefficiencies in its budget and the things that it funds.

“I think one benefit that we’re really going to see is the university now really looking into where we can cut different costs and cut inefficiencies,” he said. “So I’d say the two main benefits are, yes, financially, we’re not going to have to pay more for tuition, if this all does come to fruition, but also, we’re going to see cost inefficiencies be explored and be taken down, and I think that’s a really good thing for us to be thinking about.”

He also invited students to reach out to him via email with their thoughts about inefficiencies in what the U funds and how it is run.

As of right now, there is yet to be a formal proposal made regarding the tuition freeze.


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