Tuition hearing at UVU

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Elizabeth Suggs | Staff Writer

Contributions by: Carrie Laudie | News Editor | @carrielaudie

Tiffany Frandsen | Deputy Managing Editor| @tiffany_mf


On February 19 President Matthew S. Holland and Linda Makin, vice president for Planning, Budget and Human Resources, spoke at a  hearing on tuition, a state requirement before tuition can be increased. According to the hearing notice, “Utah Valley University is anticipating an increase in full-time resident undergraduate tuition for the 2015-2016 academic year.” It is a proposed increase of 2.5 percent to six percent, which equates to an increase of $57 to $136 a semester.

There are multiple variables that affect tuition setting. The areas analyzed to set tuition are increases in compensation (including wages, medical, dental and retirement), the level of tax fund support the school is receiving, enrollment changes, market pressures, campus needs and UVU’s commitment to students.

“[We’re] doing everything we can to keep tuition low,” said Holland, “We want to work with the legislature. We’re hoping to lean more on legislature than students.”

Currently, 52 percent of the appropriated revenue budget for the 2014-2015 school year is funded by tuition and fees, the other 48 percent come from tax funds. 59 percent of tuition goes toward salaries and wages, 25 percent to benefits, 12 percent to supplies, 2 percent to fuel and power, and less than one percent each to travel, equipment and student aid.

The proposed revenue allocation would provide $800,000 to student success, promoting retention and completion initiatives and enhancing the experience of students, $700,000 would be allocated to support key student and academic support programs and services and $1.01 million dollars would be allocated for compensation, strengthening support services and technology.

A projected performance model goal would raise 3 percent more to reward to the best employees and professors, while 5 percent would be asked for medical expenses.

“[That’s] a high priority,” said Holland, “Salary is barely keeping pace with the cost of living,”

Senator Urquhart (R-St. George) has introduced a bill in the Utah legislature that would establish a performance-based model of funding from the state. Universities would be rewarded and receive funding when students excel and the university succeeds in meeting specific terms, thus easing the pressure to raise tuition.

“Around the country there are real discussions on how high tuition has become. We have a distinctive advantage,” said Holland, “Our goal is to maintain what we have.”

The national tuition average is $8,983. According to the State Board of Regents, tuition and fees in public higher education ranges from $3,389 at Snow to $7,895 at the University of Utah. UVU tuition and fees fall in the middle at $5,270.

“My overall philosophy is to continue to be the most efficient [university] with low cost,” said Holland.

Holland stressed the goal was not to “downgrade” the institution, only to maintain low tuition costs.

“The one phenomenon that could change [this goal] are the missionaries coming back,” said Holland.

Due to the Mormon missionary age change, statewide enrollment in Utah colleges dropped by more than 2 percent in 2013, according to enrollment data released by the Utah System of Higher Education.

The figures also showed Weber, another open-enrollment college, had the hardest hit of low enrollment by the missionary age change at 6.65 percent, about 1000 students.

Both Weber and UVU are Utah’s top four-year open campus Universities in the state.

“If we’re still expected to stay as an open campus we might need to do a higher tuition just to survive,” said Holland.