Undergraduate Assembly representatives said this month that they will step up pressure on the administration and Trustees this year to keep tuition increases to a minimum. Earlier this year, the Trustees hiked tuition and fees by 6.7 percent, the smallest percentage in over a decade. UA Vice Chairperson Mike Feinberg said this month that UA efforts last school year -- including circulating a petition among students and meeting with the Trustees and administrators -- contributed significantly to the decision. In addition to coordinating petitions and meetings earlier this year, the UA is planning to sponsor a letter-writing campaign to Harrisburg to ask for more state funding. Trustees this month said it is too early to predict tuition and fees increases, but said several factors such as increased energy costs and student demands for more security, may force increases. Feinberg, who chaired the UA Tuition Committee last year, said that student unity is students' "biggest ammunition" for influencing administrators and Trustees. He said that this year's UA petition will call for any percentage tuition increase to be smaller than last year's. Feinberg said he expects the relatively small increase last year to be "precedent-setting." But Provost Michael Aiken said after last year's tuition announcement that containing tuition hikes will become more difficult in the coming years because of slowing revenue growth and increased budget demands. Feinberg said that the UA plans to talk with administrators and Trustees throughout the year, adding that if tuition increases at a higher rate than last year, the UA will attempt to mobilize students to protest. UA Tuition Committee Chairperson Mitch Winston said he is uncertain what specific measures the UA will take if the Trustees decide on a large increase. "I want to make sure that Trustees realize that students and their parents will not accept a rise in the rate of tuition from last year and that there will be consequences if they go down that path," Feinberg said. Robert Fox, Trustees' Budget and Finance Committee chairperson, said last week that it is premature to predict whether tuition will follow last year's pattern, saying increasing energy costs may force tuition upward. Fox said that he does not know if last year's decision will set a precedent, but added that "the increased awareness to student concerns is precedent setting." Budget and Finance Committee member Susan Catherwood said earlier this week that recent student demands to increase security on campus may force Trustees to raise tuition costs. "Our priority has always been to keep tuition as low as possible, but when more and more demands are made, tuition must be raised and it is that simple," Catherwood said. "In the last three or four years, security issues have become a major problem and they obviously have to be responded to." Catherwood said the Trustees' other priorities this year include maintaining top-notch faculty and upholding a "need-blind" admissions policy. The University is not the only institution attempting to curb skyrocketing tuition costs. Last year, Stanford University administration and trustees announced a "repositioning " plan to limit annual tuition increases to one percent above the inflation rate. In recent years, Stanford tuition increases averaged about four percent above the inflation rate. According to Stanford University Budget Officer Tim Warner, Stanford officials have been forced to cut $22 million out of their operating budget. Approximately 150 jobs have been cut including physical plant and upper level administrative positions, Warner said this week. Catherwood said University Trustees have not considered such drastic measures.Comments powered by Disqus
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