Receiving the training during their scheduled council meeting on Nov. 9, the UVUSA Student Council heard from Student Leadership Director Marissa King, who taught the council their role in how fees are appropriated at UVU.
“It is not a common practice,” King stated while referring to UVU’s student fee system. “Most student fee boards [across the country] are made up of faculty and staff and administrators. … UVU is unique in that we, the student council, [are] that student fee hearing board to assess and determine what fees would be beneficial to the campus community we have.”
Every year, the Student Council hosts several hearings in late January and early February with several faculty members called “stewards,” who report to the council on how their program used the funds given to them by their student fee. After these hearings are held, the council will draft a proposal that can slash fees, increase them, maintain them or create new ones. This is then sent to the President’s Council for approval, then to the Board of Trustees, and after that to the State Board of Regents for final approval.
“It is a very unique privilege, and it is something that we don’t want to treat lightly, or take for granted,” King stressed to the council.
Currently, there are eight enacted fees that students pay along with their course fees and tuition. Those include building bonds ($91.50), Campus Recreation ($29.27), programs and operations of the Student Life and Wellness Center and Sorensen Center ($57.92), Student Programs ($53.01), Athletics ($78.21), UTA Passes ($6.54), Student Health Services ($9.84), and the Arts ($1.74).
In the past three years, fees were increased by $7 overall in the 2021-2022 school year, and in 2022-2023, school year fees were unchanged due to Governor Spencer Cox’s call on state universities to freeze their tuitions to help students with rising costs during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to this freeze, many organizations on campus have been using reserve funds in an attempt to make up the difference, as King explained.
“A lot of the stewards are going to come and ask for a fee increase this year, I am anticipating that. I will be coming and asking you for an increase, I already know that,” King explained during her training with the council. “Last year, … we all had to tap into our reserves … to be able to maintain services how they were, so to keep your budgets where they are so that you would have access and opportunities. We also have a mandated cost of living increase [COLA] for all campus employees.”
COLA increases play a key role during fee hearings. Depending on how high the cost of living has gone up, the State is mandated to compensate for that with employee wages. According to the Social Security Administration, the 2024 COLA increase will be 3.2% for the coming year.
King explains that with programs that are funded strictly by student fees, they had to tap into reserve funds in order to keep people from being laid off due to the freeze that occurred the previous year due to these COLA increases. She warned the council that this was not sustainable.
Although it is currently unclear how much student fees will increase in the coming year, documents given to The Review show that UVUSA had spent nearly $7,000 over what they were budgeted in the last academic year. However, that deficit does not come close to the reported $2.1 million deficit that Athletics used to cover travel expenses for UVU teams last year.
Though the dates are not set yet, student fee hearings usually happen through the months of January and February and are open for students to attend. Times for these hearings usually occur during the regularly scheduled Student Council meetings from about 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information about student fees, visit the UVUSA Website. As this story develops, The Review will continue to give updates.
Editor-In-Chief of the UVU Review (2022-2024)
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