College of Engineering increases fees amid budget cuts

(Graphic by Audrey Hockersmith)

A $5.2 million budget cut to the university and a 5 percent internal university callback left the College of Engineering with little choice but to raise the fees charged to Kansas State engineering students.

“We had to raise fees to mitigate the amount of losses we received this fiscal year,” Darren Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering, said.

Dawson said both the internal callback and the state budget cuts tightened the college’s budget by $800,000 and $850,000, respectively.

“Our college is different than the others,” Dawson said. “We are not cutting services like what some of the other colleges are doing, but rather charging more to offer the same. Our departments do not see the cuts.”

To make this possible, Dawson said they had no choice but to have their students pay more to make up for at least the cuts made by the state.

The College of Engineering added a $30 per credit hour surcharge, on top of K-State’s increased tuition.

For Nicholas Meyer, junior in biological and agricultural systems engineering, the tuition increase and engineering surcharge added an additional $700-$800 a semester.

“It is just really frustrating,” Meyer said. “Before, students were much more willing to go out, grab some coffee and just hang out outside of class to take a break and get away. Now, I have seen people are much less willing to do so because we just can’t afford it after this increased tuition and higher fees. College is much more expensive now because of these cuts, and we’re all frustrated.”

Even so, last year’s College of Engineering’s Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee representative Jordan DeLoach said students should consider the extra cost an investment into their education.

“This affected engineering students by asking them to pay a little bit more for a degree that will, statistically, pay itself back over many more times in the future,” DeLoach, senior in computer science, said. “Simply put, engineering costs more. It costs more to get a degree, it costs more to hire a faculty member, but it also returns higher salaries down the road; it’s an increased investment for an increased return.”

As for the callback, the dean’s office took that cut and it has had no direct impact on students.

“We appreciate what (Dean Dawson) has done in that we have not seen any cuts in what is offered,” Jonathan Peuchen, junior in mechanical engineering and a College of Engineering student senator, said.

Peuchen said the only real cut he has seen impacting his constituents is that the engineering students who work for the college were not given their semester raises as had been done in the past.

The extra surcharge was necessary in ensuring growth and effectiveness of the college, DeLoach said.

“Our college is growing at a substantial rate,” Dawson said. “We grew by more than 800 students over the past five years, so we need to be able hire strong faculty for these students.”

Dawson said if enrollment keeps growing, there will need to be increased fees to ensure the college has enough faculty, staff and services for all students.

“I do appreciate what the college is doing, but as a junior in engineering I have seen lots of people wash out of engineering because it wasn’t for them or for many other reasons,” Meyer said. “So it is frustrating having to pay for more faculty for these new freshmen, when they may or may not even stick with it.”

Meyer said the college has offered many services that have made his collegiate experience stand out, but he still has to pay for much more than he actually gets out of it.

“From my perspective, these cuts are negative all around,” Meyer said. “I am not sure if students like me are going to be able to make it with these extra fees.”

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series analyzing the effects of budget cuts on the colleges at Kansas State and their students. Next week’s story will look at the College of Agriculture.

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!