College presidents urge increase in student fees

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 10, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Updated Thursday, May 10 at 6:52 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- It is finals week on college campuses across Louisiana.

As students wrap up one semester, the specter of increased fees looms large for the next.

This week, university system presidents floated a plan to charge students a so-called "stabilization fee" of up to $25 a credit hour to offset expected state budget cuts.

University of New Orleans President Peter Fos said he has no choice but to increase the financial burden on students and parents.

"Every dollar that the state doesn't give me, I have raise on my own," said Fos. "To maintain the university, I need the budget I have now, plus more."

Southern University at New Orleans Chancellor Victor Ukpolo said his campus can't continue to sustain body blows from Baton Rouge.

"Nobody wants to increase the price of education, particularly my students," said Ukpolo. "Many of my students are first generation students, they come from an economically challenged home."

Since 2009 state appropriations to UNO dropped from $60 million to about $40 million a year.

At the same time, SUNO's funding dropped from $16 million to $11 million.

"That's a problem in America. We don't invest in our educational system," said SUNO junior Christopher Smith. "We do take a lot from the students, people who are supposed to be educated and supposed to have a better quality of life because of an education."

The new fees would cost the average student up to $300 a semester.

"It wouldn't necessarily be a burden, but I imagine for other students who are strapped for cash, it might have more of an impact on them," said UNO graduate student Mark Kreitz.

"For them to take money from the students is really absurd, it really is," said SUNO junior Sherrell Dyer. "We don't deserve that just because they're mishandling money."

"I think most students could probably pay that," said UNO sophomore Ariel Moore. "Here at UNO we do see serious differences because of the budget cuts. I think anyway that we can increase money here we should."

If lawmakers OK the college stabilization fees, they will remain in place for the next three years.

"It will help us to hire quality faculty, maintain our faculty, be able to service our programs," said Ukpolo.

"There isn't any fluff in this," said Fos. "We're at a tipping point now. If we are going to continue to provide the quality education that students deserve, that the universities have a tradition of doing, we just have to try and find the money any way we can."

Fos admits, the only other sources of revenue come from donations and research grants.

A bill containing the new stabilization fee was approved by a state senate committee and is now headed to the senate floor for more debate.

 

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