Board Discusses Six Percent Tuition Hike

On Feb. 9 the Board of Trustees met in a daylong discussion of pressing University issues. One decidedly sticky issue raised was a six percent increase in next semester’s tuition. The Board was in unanimous agreement with it, but wary of its relative appearance. Provost John Hughes related that in past years, the tuition rate for UVM has increased at a rate of about four percent per year rate. Meanwhile, the national average of tuition increase last year was marked at 6.3 percent. Distraught members commented that the overall look of a two percent increase in tuition rates as an impeding roadblock. Members argued that a sudden increase in tuition would scare off future students who would not understand the reasoning behind the increase. “I think the students are a very powerful source,” trustee John Snow said when discussing the amount of impact student’s have on their college expenses. Reasoning concerning UVM need for more money was also discussed, one of them being the list of maintenance work scheduled for the next 10 years. The Budget, Finance and Investments Committee announced that as of now, renovations on Dewey and Williams Halls were off course. More deferred projects may arise. After looking over the list of scheduled maintenance, the committee decided that a “road trip” around campus was needed in order to prioritize. Some projects were set in motion however. Those included the construction of a new plant science building, situated across from the Davis Center, and a new research facility in Colchester. The Educational Policy and Institutional Resources Committee was given a presentation exploring the layout and function of each building. Another need for the tuition increase, as explained by Hughes, was the particular circumstance the University faces as a public institute of higher education in Vermont, Hughes said. The percentage of UVM’s budget coming from state appropriations is extremely low when compared to other public universities across the nation, Hughes said. Therefore, whereas most public institutions across America can rely on their states to cover expenses, UVM works more like a private school, in which money is essentially gained through donors, students and debt, Hughes said. “30 percent of the six percent goes right back to tuition aid,” Hughes said. The rest of the money gained would go to support new faculty and further investment around UVM’s campus. Resounding agreement was voiced when SGA President Seth Bowden stressed the importance of student understanding in the tuition increase.