By Kat Riddler, Editor-In-Chief
The Fee Review Committee examined increases in students’ tuition and fees for the Fall 2018 semester at the University of Missouri–St. Louis on April 14. The committee was made up of the president, vice president, comptroller, and student senators of the Student Government Association (SGA).
The committee created a list of demands following a presentation. SGA President Kathryn Loucks, senior, biology, explained why the committee created demands. Loucks said, “Our biggest concern is that students will be completely unaware of the increases and find themselves in financial trouble in the fall. For this reason, the committee included an unprecedented list of demands in the recommendation report. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that the administration will honor any of the requests.”
The demands of the Fee Review Committee were preluded with a brief explanation. The report stated, “Because every student at UMSL will suffer simultaneous and substantial fee and tuition increases in the fall of 2017, and because the Fee Review Committee was overlooked in initial conversations about these increases, the committee recommends that the administration of UMSL honor the following requests.”
The demands from the committee were:
- Publish the fee(s) associated with courses in the course catalogue. Students deserve easy access to fee amounts when enrolling in classes and considering degree programs. The Fee Review Committee requests that fee information be included in each course description.
- Adjust the Fee Reassessment Schedule for the 2017 fall semester. The current schedule grants full refunds when 16-week classes are dropped within one week and eight-week classes are dropped within five days. The majority of students are unaware of pending tuition and fee increases that will significantly impact their bills in the fall. They need more time to assess their financial situations and make adjustments to their schedules accordingly.
The Fee Review Committee requests that the Fee Reassessment Schedule be temporarily revised so that the deadlines for the 100 percent reassessment are delayed by one week. The remaining deadlines may be set as administration deems appropriate.
- Increase the percentage of fees that contribute to scholarships. With several tuition and fee increases, students will heavily rely on financial aid to be able to continue their education at UMSL. The Fee Review Committee requests that the percentage of fees that contribute to scholarship funds be raised from 20 percent to 22 percent.
- Hold a town hall by the end of the semester, or be present at the May 5 SGA meeting to inform students of the tuition and fee increases. The students of UMSL deserve to know that the administration is asking each student to pay more for their education. In previous years, the Fee Review Committee convened in the fall semester to discuss proposed tuition and fee increases for the following fiscal year.
This model allows the committee sufficient time to discuss its recommendations, present the recommendations to students at an assembly meeting, obtain feedback, revise any recommendations if needed, and properly communicate any increases to the student body.
This year, the campus’ new chief financial officer was unaware of the committee’s existence because of an unacceptable omission from this university’s administration. The university’s claim to value shared governance was preserved only when the committee was mentioned in a meeting requested by the SGA comptroller. The Fee Review Committee met, but the process was rushed, and the recommendations above had to be made without contribution from the SGA assembly.
The Fee Review Committee feels neglected by administration and wants to stress the importance of communicating these numerous, substantial increases to students.
To begin to make amends with students, the Fee Review Committee requests that Chancellor George, Rick Baniak, and Curt Coonrod either hold a town hall by the end of the semester or present themselves at the May 5 SGA assembly meeting to inform students of the tuition and fee increases.