Colleges propose new high credit hour fees

From left, David Madden, Leticia Peres Multini, and Lucas Ramon, all juniors in chemical engineering, measure the concentration of acetone at different heights as it evaporates and rises up a PVC tube in Transport Phenomena Lab on March 11, 2015 in Durland Hall. Representatives of the Colleges of Engineering, Education and Human Ecology are debating increasing their per-credit-hour fees already tacked onto the regular K-State tuition rate next school year. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Students in the College of Business Administration, Engineering and Human Ecology face the possibility of increased credit hour fees next academic year. The Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee, a standing committee within the student governing association, will deliberate three proposals given by the College of Business Administration, Engineering and Human Ecology.

The proposals for business administration and engineering are described as a surcharge that would raise money for faculty support. The College of Business Administration is proposing a $20 increase on the existing $20 per credit hour surcharge. The College of Engineering is proposing a $15 increase on an existing $39 per credit hour surcharge. The College of Human Ecology does not currently have a credit hour fee in place and is proposing a new $25 per credit hour fee. The proposed fee will primarily benefit student programs and general expenses.

Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee is made up of the student body president, the speaker of the student senate, the privilege fee chair and one student representative from each college, along with various faculty advisors.

“We have about seven or eight meetings during the spring semester to consider the fee proposals and look at tuition, and make a recommendation for the end of April,” Reagan Kays, student body president and senior in agribusiness, said.

The committee’s recommendation will be based on presentations given by the three colleges during these meetings and then forwarded to university administration for implementation.

Speaker of the Senate Abby Works, senior in chemistry, said that the committee received the proposals from business administration, engineering and human ecology in early February. The proposals seek to address various budget issues for each college.

Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the College of Business, addressed the need for additional faculty and staff to help reduce class sizes, particularly Principles of Finance, Management Concepts and Introduction to Marketing. The proposal notes that Principles of Finance is currently offered in only one section and typically holds 350-380 students.

“I understand the need for the things in the proposal,” said Stephen Kucera, senator for the College of Arts and Sciences and senior in applied music. “I understand that Finance 450 is very large, and that it should be smaller. I understand that we need some more advisors in the College of Business.”

In the proposal given by Malekzadeh, he wrote that the proposed surcharge will help pay for 13 new faculty, three of those being advisers.

The College of Engineering’s proposal also seeks to help pay for new faculty and supplement existing faculty pay. Gary Clark, College of Engineering associate dean, said the average enrollment from 2007-11 was 2,900 undergraduates and 423 graduate students. He said the expected average enrollment is now closer to 3,800 undergraduates and 587 graduate students. In order to keep up with increasing student enrollment in the College of Engineering, the proposed surcharge will help bring on additional faculty and advisor positions.

Likewise, the College of Human Ecology is hoping to support its existing faculty, but its proposed credit hour fee will mostly help create new programs for students and provide more undergraduate research opportunities as well as improve classrooms and technology.

The recent announcement from state legislature about cuts to funding education adds to the issues surrounding the credit hour proposals. On the other hand, Kays said the proposals from each college were being drafted before the announcement was made.

“I don’t see it as a response to the budget cuts,” Kays said. “I see it as our faculty are underpaid or we need these services to provide a better education for our students, and we’re going to propose a fee to do that.”

Kucera expressed his concern that the state budget cuts will make it harder for students to afford the cost of higher education.

“This is an optimal proposal, but it’s at a time that’s very fragile for students,” Kucera said.

Works said the proposal is necessary.

“I understand that when I graduate from K-State, I want my degree to mean something,” Works said. “And so that means that my program has to have top-notch faculty and staff.”

Works went on to say that with the decreased state funding, colleges are going to have to find ways to make up the difference. The Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee hopes to find a balance between increasing costs and keeping education affordable before making its final recommendation.

Works encouraged students who have questions or concerns about the proposals to reach out to the student senators of their college or to the Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee itself. The committee plans to give its recommendation by the end of April.