Get to know a fee proposal: What Arts and Sciences will do with $8.70 more per credit hour


Editor’s note: This is the third story in a series analyzing fee proposals under consideration by K-State. The first story in this series analyzed the fee proposal for the College of Business. The second analyzed K-State Libraries.

The College of Arts and Sciences is requesting an $8.70 per-credit-hour fee increase starting in fall 2016.

The proposed fee would raise the current fee from $8 per credit hour to $16.70, according to the college’s fee proposal application. The increase was unanimously approved by the Tuition and Fees Strategies committee on April 13.

Stephen Kucera, senior in music performance and accounting and student senator representing the College of Arts and Sciences in the Student Governing Association, said he takes into account a few different questions when deciding how to vote on a fee, including how much the proposed fee would raise each student’s tuition. In the case of a student taking 15 credit hours in the college, Kucera estimated the fee would cost approximately $120 more for each student.

“When you compare the College of Arts and Sciences’ credit-hour fee, particularly when you compare it to some colleges like Engineering, which I believe is currently at $54 per credit hour and wanting to go even higher than that, increasing Arts and Sciences’ from eight to $16.70 seemed a lot more reasonable,” Kucera said.

How the fee will be used

The prospective fee, if implemented, will be used to hire full-time advisers and help attract graduate teaching assistants by increasing their stipends, according to the proposal.

“The GTA stipends for the College have been non-competitive for many years, affecting our ability to attract the very best graduate students to our programs who serve as teaching assistants for many of our general survey and laboratory courses,” according to the proposal. “Annual surveys begun in 2013 demonstrate that we are well below our peer averages, in some departments by over $5,000 per year.”

Beth Montelone, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said there is variation among departments, but the average salary difference between K-State graduates and their peers in departments at other universities is $3,000.

“There’s more discrepancy from average in some departments than others, and that’s pretty typical too,” Montelone said. “Usually the science departments tend to be highly competitive, and so we are closer to our peers than we are, say in English, or art, or humanities.”

The reason K-State was more competitive in some departments than others was because the university has not historically had the funding to create “appropriate stipends” in all areas, Montalone said.

She said the fee will also go toward hiring full-time academic advisers for departments within the College that do not have them.

Students not assigned to professional advisers are assigned to faculty advisers, which are faculty members who advise students while serving as professors or in other roles, Montelone said.

They generally work with students who are further along in their academic careers and can help students find internships or job opportunities or serve as professional contacts within their given fields, Montelone said.

She said the difference between full-time and part-time advisers is that full-time advisers help people who do not necessarily know which career tracks they want to pursue between two similar ones or similar fields of study, such as those deciding between biology or pre-health. They also might help those who are just not sure what they want to do.

“(The full-time advisers) are working with those students and making sure that they get in a program for at least that critical first year so that they’ll be in a good position whichever way they decide to go for a major,” Montelone said.

Of 24 departments in the college, six currently have full-time advisers, Montelone said. The proposed fee will allow all departments in the college to either have one or share one with another department if they are too small.

The national recommendation is fewer than 300 students per professional adviser, Montelone said.

When it comes to voting on fee proposals, Kucera said he tries to learn all he can about fees being presented, including talking with the people presenting them.

“One of the things I try to do is talk to the deans that are bringing these proposals, and so I talk with each of them,” Kucera said. “I talked with the interim dean (of the College of Arts and Sciences), Amit Chakrabarti, and I asked dean (Peter) Dorhout before him, ‘With this increase do you feel like students would not be able to stay here at K-State or not be able to come here because of this one particular increase?'”

For the College of Arts and Sciences fee proposal, the answer was no, which Kucera said was not always the answer he got from other deans.

“The deans felt very confident that people would be able to stay here,” Kucera said.

Next steps for the proposal

The fee proposal will now go to the university president’s office, who will then submit them as part of the tuition and fee budget proposal for next year to the Kansas Board of Regents before their meeting on May 18-19, according to Breeze Richardson, communications director for the regents.

They will then receive an “initial reading” unless they need to be postponed for some reason, such as if the Kansas Legislature is still in session, Richardson said.

The Legislature needs to have completed its session before tuition is determined because the two biggest parts of a university’s budget are state appropriations and tuition rates, Richardson said.

“It’s not prudent to set tuition until after the legislature has concluded their session and the budget is established from the state general fund stream,” Richardson said.

After that, the budgets from each university will go through revisions and an all-day workshop, where each university president will present their budgets to the regents one at a time.

In the case of K-State, the regents expect collaboration between outgoing university president Kirk Schulz and interim president Richard Myers, Richardson said. Because Schulz’s time at K-State ends before the next meeting, however, Myers will likely present the budget.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.