Tuition, meal plan prices could increase
The Tuition and Fee Forum presented a 5.9 percent proposed increase in tuition for fiscal year 2009 at its second meeting in the World Affairs Lounge on Thursday.
The proposed increase would be $185, making tuition rise to $3,329 from $3,144 for 12 undergraduate hours, if approved.
Ed Hugetz, associate vice president of Planning and University Outreach, said UH tuition and fee rates are getting closer to the national average.
"Public education is a private good," Hugetz said.
Of the $16 million the proposed increase is expected to generate for fiscal year 2009, tuition and fees account for less than 2 percent of the overall University budget, Vice President of Student Affairs Elwyn Lee said.
Wednesday’s forum had higher attendance, with about 40 students while Thursday’s forum had about five.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Foss, who led the Tuition and Fees Review Committee, was not present at the Thursday forum.
Lee said the committee would recommend prices of University housing meal plans increase 3.5 percent next fall to account for inflation. Students living in the Moody Towers and the Quardrangle are required to buy them.
Cougar Cash, the most expensive meal plan, may increase to approximately $1,180 from $1,140 per semester. The least expensive plan is expected to increase from $955 to $988.
During the Wednesday forum, student representative David Rosen said meal plans are outdated.
"The school needs to branch away from meal plans," he said. "We’re not competitive enough with dormitory plans and we’re not realistic enough with meal plans."
At Wednesday’s meeting, which approximately 40 students attended, some complained about the lack of service and disparity of dormitory sizes at Cullen Oaks Apartments.
Lee said students paying fees in the dormitories cover utilities and services, such as high-speed Internet.
"No one uses the Internet at Cullen Oaks," political science junior Stephanie Caballero said at Wednesday’s forum.
Caballero said the Internet connection at Cullen Oaks, where she lives, was unreliable and often unavailable.
Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance Jim McShan said part of the increase would also cover faculty and staff pay raises to account for inflation.
During the Wednesday forum, Foss said not many freshman students had signed up for the Graduation Pledge since it was first offered in summer 2006.
According to the Office of Institutional Research, 5,788 students enrolled in fall 2006. Agnes DeFranco, assistant vice president of Undergraduate Studies, said 379 students signed up in 2006.
DeFranco said more than 200 students have signed up since last fall. The Office of Institutional Research listed 5,856 freshmen enrolled.
"Last year, we (had) a last minute rush in late April (through) early May for signing," DeFranco said in an e-mail. "Sometimes our students just like to wait until the last minute as they have so many things on their minds."
Proposed tuition and fee increases will be recommended to UH President Renu Khator as part of the proposed University budget, who will then make a proposal to the UH System Board of Regents. The board will then vote on the recommendations that will take effect in September, when the fiscal year begins. The board can reject, change or keep the proposed University budget.