Tuition rise

Loy Fong

Sitting in on the Tuition and Fee Proposal committee, I got an interesting opportunity to see how UTSA tries to work out the complexities of what to prioritize. As the faculty’s and presenters’ least favorite committee member, due to my frequent questions and criticism, I’d like to relay what I witnessed in order to provide a general understanding to why I’m in favor of the fee proposal.

Let’s start with differential tuition. The idea behind the College of Engineering (COE) and the College of Business’s (COB) plans for a separate rate for certain majors seems at first displeasing till you look at what it is for. The COB plans to build new collaborative workspaces, increase course availability and build on assistive programs such as a “faculty prime time” where dedicated staff help students work out problems. It seemed brilliant to me, all the money came back to students. For the COE, differential tuition was geared toward opening more labs and getting more lab technicians to assist students with lab work and equipment. I saw, just like in the COB, the COE is looking to put 100 percent of this money into the degrees of the affected students.

Moving further into the proposal, the green fee is about as simple as its name sounds. The green fee is designed to provide more environmentally friendly options for UTSA, such as the in-wall water stations and compacting trash cans. The student service fee was about supporting the budgets for services and programs dedicated to the students. It’s a long list, but in short, continuing to pull back or re-budget things like the One Stop Enrollment Center or the Student Financial Aid program would be detrimental in the long run.

The automated services and computer access fee really made me mad during the original presentation. The Office of Information and Technology (OIT) has been running a near negative budget with a projected fiscal year 2019 budget of negative 1.4 million. I was upset for two reasons. First, because we boast highly of our cyber security program yet we are going to vastly underfund technology for the number one Cyber School; second, their proposal aimed to give them only breakeven or $500,000 more. I gave them an additional option with hopes they would come back and give a new plan, and I was satisfied that OIT took the time to listen to a student and adjust their budget plan. The money OIT now has will go towards making our university more functional with the increased costs of maintenance and technology for infrastructure, supplying phone charging stations and free applications.

I personally see a lot of value in the proposal that comes with the tuition and fee’s increase, and I fully support it. I urge the faculty members on the committee and the presenters to fully explain what’s going on with the figures more than anything; the charts they provided do not make sense to a lot of students because it’s simply large numbers on paper. I think that a quick explanation of “this is what your money will go to if it passes,” and “this is how much it will affect you,” really needed to be highlighted and would have provided clarity. Hopefully, this has helped those confused on the whole proposal!