Students speak out against possible tuition hikes

Cyrus Nuval
Staff Writer

Students and administrators discussed possible tuition increases and other changes for the 2013-2014 school year during a forum discussion in the Ginter House Board Room on Tuesday afternoon.

David Hanson, vice president for finance and administration, and Beverly Warren, the provost of VCU, led the discussion with 14 students. The present group of administrative faculty had met before with consultants from outside organizations, other universities and multiple VCU boards to discuss their plans to change the current tuition fee model, according to Hanson.

A group of 14 students and university administrators met to discuss next year's possible tuition changes, including a proposal that would begin charging students based on how many credit hours they take. All proposals still have to be discussed and voted on by the Board of Visitors on May 10.
A group of 14 students and university administrators met to discuss next year’s possible tuition changes, including a proposal that would begin charging students based on how many credit hours they take. All proposals still have to be discussed and voted on by the Board of Visitors on May 10. Photo by Zach Heerbrandt

Hanson and Warren said multiple tuition fee model ideas came out of budget discussions, and the administration is leaning toward a per-credit hour pricing model for the 2013-2014 school year.

“This is basically, you pay for what you consume,” Warren said. “You will be charged smaller amounts for the number of credit hours rather than a larger flat rate fee … in the long run you will actually save money … you will pay a little bit more per semester but you will save money on your entire schooling.”

Many of the students present were bothered but unsurprised by the tuition fee increase. Some were apprehensive about the possible new per-credit model. Elizabeth Forbes, a senior art history and communication arts major, said that if the university were to apply the per-credit-hour model, it would be a good idea to lessen the number of required general education classes that have no relation to their major.

“Some of us with particular majors will have to take more than four years (of classes) to get our bachelor’s degree due to these classes that may have absolutely nothing to do with what we are studying,” Forbes said. “If you are going to charge us per credit hour, can you at least reduce the number of these non-major classes we have to take … that way, we may even graduate on time.”

Vicente Gonzalez, a senior intercultural communications major, said during the meeting that he is apprehensive about some programs the university already has in place that he said have made no visible impact to the student body.

“This entire meeting is good, symbolically. However, all the officials outside this meeting seem to already have made up their mind on what they want to do,” Gonzalez said. “The Quest for Distinction and the other programs the school proposed and put into action don’t seem to be doing their jobs if we keep on having to increase our fees, and our quality of education doesn’t seem to change.”

Hanson said factors outside the university are requiring VCU to change the model and there will be at least a minimal increase in their tuition fee.

“The governor is asking us to increase the number of faculty we have and promote more in-state students to come to our university,” Hanson said. “These are things that we are more than happy to have … but since the state can only provide us money for what is basically less than 60 percent of our unavoidable costs. … These things are difficult to maintain without raising fees or cutting spending to provide or improve the quality of education we want to give you.”

Hanson said modifications will also be made to encourage students to sign up for more, rather than fewer, classes if the change takes place, including possible discounts for students taking 15 credits or more. Hanson also said this model would likely only be applied to incoming students.

According to Warren, while the cost of tuition will likely increase, the university is also finding ways to decrease spending.

“We will renew some of our contracts and find less expensive ways to spend for non-core materials and items,” Warren said. “The fee increase will go to hiring more faculty, attracting better faculty such as endowed professors and giving you better facilities and improving the facilities we already have.”

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