The Tuition and Fees Strategy Committee voted to approve a new process for approving fees Tuesday.
According to the final report for the recommendation, the new fee approval process aims to streamline Kansas State’s tuition and fee structure, as well as improve financial flexibility of individual colleges in the university.
Under the current process, colleges begin the process of fee approval process with a presentation to their college student committees. If approved by the college student committee, requests move to the Provost and then to the university’s Tuition and Fee Strategy Committee for an official vote. Requests are then sent to the university president. The students who will be affected by a new fee are largely not involved in the approval process.
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The new process recommends that a college tuition committee be established during the approval process. CTCs will be chaired by Jack Ayres, student body president and senior in chemical engineering, and Jonathan Peuchen, speaker of the senate and senior in mechanical engineering. A representative from the college seeking approval will act as a voting member of the committee.
Ayres said this will prevent a single person from derailing the process of a CTC.
During the meeting, Sarah Niederee, chair of the Privilege Fee Committee and senior in agricultural economics, shared a past experience she had where she was not allowed to be a representative on a CTC because she did not support the fee seeking approval.
“I wholeheartedly disagree with the whole pretext of that idea, that you would pick somebody based on their belief on a fee, in any direction,” Ayres said.
If the CTC approves the proposal, it will move on to the Tuition and Fees Strategy Committee.
Additionally, the committee now recommends that a college make an effort to communicate with its student body to garner their opinion.
“The reason why I think this is good is that it provides some consistency, and it better syncs SGA with the college students, and I think it eliminates the discrepancies that might exist between a TFSC vote and the college,” Ayres said.
The process does not recommend any changes to the existing approval process of university-wide tuition rate changes. However, it does recommend that university-wide increases no longer be requested on a percentage basis, as it places a “greater burden” on students in colleges that assess at a higher rate. Instead, it recommends requests to be made as a flat dollar amount equally applied to each college’s tuition rate.
All committee members present at the meeting voted to approve the process.
However, the question remains as to whether the new process will be implemented this semester or during the next academic year. Ayres said the process should have been decided months ago.
“The challenge is timing,” Ayres said. “I think this really should’ve been happening in November. One hundred percent should’ve happened in November, and I wish we would have been committed to a process.”
Cindy Bontrager, vice president for administration and finance, said the process will most likely not be implemented until the fall.
“It won’t work for this year, but I do think that we could ask for the deans to have [proposals and audits] submitted to the provost by the end of the fall semester,” Bontrager said.
The meeting ended with a discussion on criteria and standards for colleges to meet before fees can be considered. Among the potential standards discussed were a quota for student participation in surveys.
Stephen Kucera, student support director and graduate student in accounting, said enforcing a quota for consideration may not be the best standard.
“Setting specific metrics leads to unethical behavior,” Kucera said. “Deans could do any number of things to increase participation.”