In an unprecedented action, University of Connecticut officials decided not to raise student fees for the upcoming 2016-17 academic year on Tuesday.
Student fees include housing, dining plans and a $957 general university fee per semester.
This comes amid growing financial strain on students after the Board of Trustees approved increasing in-state tuition by 6.7 percent for the next academic year and 31 percent over the next four years.
In an email announcing the fee freeze to students Tuesday, UConn President Susan Herbst wrote, “As always, we must work to ensure that UConn remains competitive when it comes to cost, balancing affordability with the cost of operating the university and serving our students.”
The Student Advisory Committee recommended increasing the general university fee by $35 and “there was also a discussion internally” about increasing housing and dining, Herbst wrote.
However, at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, UConn Chief Financial Officer Scott Jordan stressed that both Herbst and Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh insisted on keeping the current fees in an effort to maintain affordability during tuition increases.
Herbst wrote that UConn has managed its budget efficiently while receiving unstable funding from the state making student fee increases unnecessary.
Although housing and dining places increased last year, the general university fee did not, according to the UConn Bursar’s Office, Residential Life and DiningServices webpages.
Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Gilbert said the fee freeze is possible because of the growing number of fee payers. The university anticipates housing 280-290 more students next year and requiring that 80 percent have dining plans, he said.
Still, fees will have to be revisited next year, Gilbert said, citing increased food costs as a main reason for potentially requiring a higher dining fee.
In Herbst’s email, she noted that some academic material’s fees associated with courses will increase.
A proposal presented at the town hall meeting showed that only one academic material fee—general chemistry—will increase from $10 to $20. Nine other chemistry classes’ material fees will decrease and the music major fee is still being revised.
Provost Mun Choi said material fees decreased mostly because of bulk costs of material.
All tier three student organizations—including The Daily Campus, Undergraduate Student Government and WHUS—will also not receive an increase from student fees.
Amy Bortey, the editor-in-chief of Nutmeg Publishing—also a tier three—expressed concern about stagnant student fees after applying for a fee increase.
Nutmeg currently receives $6 per year or $24 over four years from each student’s student fees. The Student Fee Advisory Committee recently supported increasing this to $10 starting in the 2018 financial year.
“I understand students don’t want to pay more fees … but you pay money for something that you will ultimately receive, and you will eventually want a yearbook,” said Bortey, a sixth semester biological science major.
Choi assuaged her concerns at the town hall and guaranteed Nutmeg would receive the fee increase.
Annie Pancak is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @APancak.