Story by Mikayla Marshall, Staff writer
Student groups across campus plan to go to the Board of Regents meeting in December with petitions filled with student signatures opposing the proposal to charge higher tuition for each credit hour taken beyond 12 in a semester.
Although this proposal would affect only students enrolled beginning Fall 2016, these groups said they want to stand up for future students who aren’t on campus to stand up for themselves.
The administration has made it clear this is only a proposal and a the decision won’t be made until Spring 2016.
“It is a thing that we are looking at,” President Bob Davies said.
Now an in-state student taking 12 credit hours pays $3,804 per semester, the same as an in-state student taking 15 credit hours of in-person courses. Online courses cost more.
But online courses do not count toward the current cap, “which drives me crazy,” Davies said.
The proposal would charge an additional fee to students that take more than 12 hours.
That fee for in-state students would be $266 per hour over 12. That would mean an in-state student taking 12 credit hours would pay $3,996 per semester and an in-state student taking 15 credit hours would pay $4,794 per semester, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by The Murray State News.
The proposed fee is different for students from each state in the region and other out of state students. Though certain counties in regional states can receive in-state tuition, those students would still pay the additional fee. Students from Illinois, for example, would be charged $508 per hour above 12, and out-of-state students would be charged $725 per hour over 12. An out-of-state student taking 12 credit hours would pay $13,047 per semester, according to the proposal.
University officials have said past tuition increases stemmed from falling state funding. Money from the state has dropped 10 percent in 10 years.
At the same time, Murray State recommends students take 15 credit hours in order to graduate in four years. A statewide effort called “15 to Finish” encourages that course load.
“We’re all under a lot of pressure to trim our majors down to 120 (credit hours),” said David Pizzo, department of history faculty coordinator.
Pizzo said he, along with several other professors, want the policy proposal to be more clear on how the proposal lines up with the “15 to Finish” effort.
“I hope they are intending on being very transparent on what this actually is, because I work here and I can’t find an adequate explanation on what they intend to do,” Pizzo said.
A student group comprising Honors College, double major, agriculture, education, music and international students will be one of the groups standing against the proposal at the Board meeting in December.
“It didn’t come as a complete shock since there are many projects on campus that need more money, but I was surprised they would put it on the students in this type of burden,” said Helen Beckert, senior from Henderson, Kentucky.
As these students understand it, the proposal is a way to raise money toward the university. The group has had discussions regarding alternative solutions to raising revenue, those being cutting cost in certain areas of the budget and increasing cost for parking.
“We feel that since this will impact the incoming freshmen, and since they don’t have a voice here, we would want them to do the same for us,” said Keith Adams, freshman from Perry, Ohio. “We’re just trying to be fair to everyone and very diplomatic in our process.”
Davies said the university has found that capping tuition at 12 has many problems. He said it sets scholarships at a set dollar amount instead of at an inflationary amount. Therefore a student may receive a $4,000 scholarship, even when tuition rises that scholarship would still be $4,000.
“We’re trying to position Murray State to having the best quality freshman class we can,” Davies said. “The goal is to make sure we are able to always have a high quality academic experience and to provide robust scholarships.”
He said most universities have done away with the cap system over the past years. Davies said he hopes to have campus-wide discussions over the next few months in regard to the topic.