WEARING T-shirts emblazoned with the words “G This is Getting Expensive,” members of the University of Guam student community stood before a panel consisting of UOG President Robert Underwood and members of the UOG Board of Regents to express their opposition to a looming tuition fee increase.
During the session, various students took to the podium raising concerns about affordability and other adverse effects of a tuition fee hike on the general student population.
UOG Student Government Association President Jesse Quenga said the students got together to share the message that this is something that students can’t afford. “I think the message should be addressed to the government because I think it is a question of appropriation,” he said.
Quenga further stated: “We are looking for relief funds from the government. So if they can find something, it would really be appreciated.”
Prior to the hearing, SGA organized efforts to inform the university and the community in general about the impending increase, including meeting with lawmakers to mobilize support for the issue.
During the hearing, the UOG panel explained to the student body why it is necessary to implement the rate changes.
According to UOG Vice President of Finance Dave O’ Brien, the university has not increased tuition for the past three years. But with current funding, UOG cannot sustain its present level of operations, maintain academic quality in student learning, and support enrollment growth.
For his part, Underwood explained that government of Guam support has continually declined for the past 10 years and that belt-tightening measures will be put in effect to overcome the shortfall.
According to the university’s “Proposal for Tuition Rate Changes and Economic Impact Statement,” these measures include the proposed tuition rate changes as well as “the implementation of energy and utility conservation measures; deferral of hiring, elimination of positions; increased revenue generation; and academic program consolidations/phase-outs over time, larger class sizes and fewer class offerings.”
In order to maintain academic quality, support enrollment growth of 13 percent over the last five years, and meet mandated cost increases for retirement and utilities, UOG requested a $28.8 million appropriation for Fiscal Year 2013 general operations.
With the appropriation of $26.7 million by Public Law 31-233 and the mandated cost increases, UOG is faced with a $3.4 million shortfall in its FY2013 general operations budget.
In addition, with the 15 percent allotment reserve required by Adelup, “another $4 million will be held back from the university’s appropriations,” the document states.
UOG is proposing the implementation of tuition rate changes that will see increases in resident tuition fee rates by 10 percent in Spring 2013 and another 5 percent in both Academic Years 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.
For non-residents, a decrease in rates will be implemented for Spring 2013 and then an increase of 5 percent in each of the next two academic years.
The current resident tuition rate for undergraduates, according to a tuition FAQ released by UOG, is $190 per credit hour. By 2014 -2015, the rate will be $231 per credit hour.
Furthermore, for students taking the normal course load, they will pay an additional $228 in the upcoming Spring 2013 semester. The current annual tuition and fee is $5,098. In academic year 2013-2014, students will pay $5,818; in academic year 2014-2015, $6,082.
After the session, UOG released a statement thanking the students for sharing their thoughts, ideas and concerns regarding the proposed tuition rate increase during the public hearing.
“We are also appreciative of the focus our governor and the Legislature have given to the university's students. We will continue to work together to keep tuition rates as affordable as possible and to ensure that the university continues in its commitment to academic quality and student learning. Our students and the quality of student learning are our priorities,” UOG stressed in its statement.
Underwood added: "Students are the lifeblood of UOG. They are the reason for our existence, and our future success as a society is based upon student success here at UOG. We will do our best to figure out how to keep UOG as affordable as possible."