Student services fee increases
The University increased the student services fee by $5 this fall, jumping from $185 — where it had stayed since 2007 — to $190 per semester. This is a result of the University-wide improvements made for Tier One status and the cuts made to state funds.
The student services fee originates at the Office of the Dean of Students, which governs student life on campus, said Gene Gillis, the student financial services bursar.
“You as a student pay this fee to provide support for such activities,” Gillis said.
As written in a document from the Student Fees Advisory Committee to President Renu Khator and Elwyn C. Lee, former vice president for student affairs, “The $5 increase will provide the extra funding needed to support mandated salary increases, administrative charge increases, and numerous improvements needed to help student service units continue to provide exceptional services to students as we move toward Tier One status.”
Among the improvements for the fiscal year 2012, there was an allocation of funds for a student leader task force, traveling expenses for the band and an extra physician for the Counseling and Psychological Services because of increased enrollment.
A shift in the University’s budget, after a cut in state funds this fiscal year, also had a major impact on many student affairs units backed by the student services fee, said Dean of Students William Munson. The Dean of Students Office alone received a $300,000 cut in state-appropriated tax dollars and eliminated two office positions.
“We’re getting less money from the state,” Munson said. “When it all added up, the (Student Fees Advisory Committee) then decided, well, in order to balance the budget, in order to support these new services and accommodate the cuts, they agreed then that they wanted to increase the fee.”
During a series of four hearings this semester beginning Nov. 1, the SFAC, made up of several voting Student Government Association representatives and two voting faculty members, will decide on keeping or possibly increasing the student services fee and recommend its distribution among units for the fiscal year 2013, which begins Sept 2012.
At the hearings, previously funded departments and student organizations will make presentations to explain their funding requests. The last day of hearings will involve a closed-door deliberation and a finalization of recommendations to present to the president and vice president for student affairs, who will then present it to the Board of Regents in February.
SFAC chairman and SGA representative, John Evans, would not comment on the details of the upcoming hearings.
The current student population of 39,825 will provide more than $7.5 million per semester, a total increase of more than $199,000. At least 10 percent of the student body in the state must approve by a vote a student services fee above $150 per semester before said fee goes into effect.
Students have a number of ways to voice their concerns. Every hearing will allow time for public comment. There will be a series of University-sponsored public forums that project increases in tuition and fees.
Students also have the SGA available to speak on their behalf.
“One way to have an impact is to have your student government representative represent all the students’ concerns,” Munson said. “The SFAC is, by a super majority, a student entity.”
Most of the hearings will be on Nov. 1, 2, 4 and 7 in the University Center’s Bluebonnet Room.