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TBR approves 14 percent tuition increase; jobs preserved

July 1, 2003

In what was called "a remarkably fast meeting" last week, the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a 14 percent increase in tuition for APSU. The decision was met by moans from students but sighs of relief from Austin Peay staff whose jobs would have been eliminated or scaled back had the increase not passed.
July 1, 2003

In what was called "a remarkably fast meeting" last week, the Tennessee Board of Regents approved a 14 percent increase in tuition for APSU. The decision was met by moans from students but sighs of relief from Austin Peay staff whose jobs would have been eliminated or scaled back had the increase not passed.

"I am appreciative of our Board's willingness to approve another large fee increase," President Sherry Hoppe said in an e-mail to faculty and staff. "This will enable us to restore some of the positions identified for reduction to 10 months." The decision also will restore part of the budget used for temporary and student workers and some allocations for professional development, she added.

In that same meeting, the Board approved the budgets of all TBR institutions and gave the green light to several fee increases.

Austin Peay students will pay an additional $50-per-semester athletic fee and an additional $6 Student Government Association fee. The athletic fees will allow the University to retain two sports programs that were in jeopardy and meet NCAA gender-equity requirements. The SGA fee will fund student projects, activities and scholarships.

Students in upper-division business courses will pay a $20-per-credit-hour fee to help fund faculty salaries, which, because of competition for business professionals from the private sector, are significantly higher than those of most other disciplines.

Students of online courses will incur additional expense in the form of a 12 percent maintenance fee, designed to recover the costs of providing online instruction.

Student parking and traffic fines, new student orientation fees and new debt-service fees to fund a recreational facility also were approved.

Altogether, the fees amount to an additional 6 percent increase, leading some to ask, Why not just ask the TBR for a 20-percent tuition increase?

"The TBR allows each school to request specialized fees that may or may not be common to other institutions," Hoppe explains. "For example, debt service fees for special projects like dorms must be accompanied by a financial plan that shows we can pay for the buildings with rent we collect.

"Or, in the case of our University Center and the new proposed recreation center, students must vote in a referendum that they are willing to pay additional fees to have the facility. A significant part of our increase$28 per semesteractually goes to the building of the rec center. Our students also passed an increase from $4 per semester to $10 per semester for SGA use."

Asked to speculate on how the tuition increase is likely to affect enrollment, Hoppe says, "That's difficult to predict. The students most likely to be affected are those who are not eligible for financial aid and who must pay for the entire cost of their education. These students usually work full time and attend school part time and may be required to reduce the number of hours they take due to the increased cost."

Hoppe says even those on scholarships and other financial aid are likely to feel the hit when more of their financial aid is required just to pay fees. "That leaves fewer dollars for books and other expenses."

"Overall, I expect enrollment will not decline," she says. "But our students will take fewer courses each term."