Tuition slated to rise 5.9 percent

Screen Shot 2014-03-16 at 9.20.29 PM Colby Patterson
Graphic by Nick Ketterer

Graphic by Nick Ketterer

Few students attended an administrator-led meeting on Thursday intended to alleviate fears about the rising cost of tuition.

Ruth Watkins, senior vice president for academic affairs, gave a presentation on the U’s 2014-2015 budget on March 6 in the Union. She addressed student concerns about the proposed tuition increase and where money will be allocated.

There is a 5.9 percent proposed increase on tuition for both undergraduate and graduate students. This will include a $60 fee for the George S. Eccles Student Life Center, to be completed in November 2014. In-state tuition will rise by $438 per year, while out-of-state tuition will increase by $1,382 per year.

“The University of Utah is quite affordable [compared to other public research institutions],” Watkins said. “Tuition has increased everywhere.”

Watkins said the U is the most affordable school in the Pac-12 and is cheaper when compared to similar schools across the nation.

Watkins said  31 percent of the tuition increase will be used for student support, such as scholarships. Because of this increase the U will be able to offer more scholarships to future U students, especially high school students from lower income families.

She said there will be 400 Utah Promise scholarships offered in Fall Semester, if the proposal is accepted, compared to 75 Utah Promise scholarships last year. The increase, Watkins said, would also be able to grant more than 600 scholarships to reward achievement among current U students. She anticipates another 100 scholarships for transfer students, as well as 60 future U scholarships.

Twenty-nine percent of the tuition increase would be used for faculty excellence and retention. Watkins said the U needs to retain the talented professors they have, as well as bring in others to improve academia for the students on campus. Another 25 percent of the increase would be used for salaries and benefits for staff and faculty at the U. Watkins hopes this investment in quality faculty will make U the best it can be.

The final 14 percent of the increase would be used for maintenance and utility work on campus. Watkins said the problem with older universities, like the U, is the constant work required for maintenance.

Sam Ortiz, the current ASUU president said he understands why tuition will likely increase.

“Ideally tuition would be going down,” Ortiz said. “But given the context, the U is comparatively an affordable school.”

Ortiz said although the U is affordable, that does not necessarily make it easier for students. He said the main cause of the tuition increase is due to the U receiving less funding from the state. Watkins said 52 percent of the budget will come from tuition and 48 percent will come from state appropriation this year.

Ortiz said President David Pershing has done everything in his power to keep tuition low in past years.

“I think we’re in good hands, I feel confident in saying that,” Ortiz said.