University plans on restructuring campus tuition

Christina Basken, News Writer

“A-T in depth: changes coming

The Oshkosh Student Association, Faculty Senate, Senate of Academic Staff and the University Staff Senate proposed four items to “promote the long-term fiscal stability” of UW Oshkosh.

The proposed measures include implementing one or more of the following items:

  • Decouple the interim periods from the regular semesters in terms of the tuition plateau.
  • Replace the tuition plateau with a per-credit tuition assignment model.
  • Implement programmatic differential tuition on upper-level undergraduate courses in high-cost and/or high-demand academic programs, as appropriate.
  • Increase University-level differential tuition to levels present at peer institutions within the University of Wisconsin System.

These items were voted on and approved to pass on to Leavitt for further decision by the Faculty Senate on Tuesday, April 24 and by Faculty Assembly on Monday, April 30.

Faculty Senate President, Stephen Bentivenga said he is supportive of the resolutions.

“These are recommendations that have now been signed off on by all the faculty, staff, students that will go forward to the Chancellor and ultimately, it is the Chancellor’s decision to implement whatever we do as a campus,” Bentivenga said. “I think they all have their merits, I’m supportive of these if they are done compassionately and thoughtfully. The resolution is worded pretty vaguely and that gives the administration a lot of leeway in how to implement this.”

According to Bentivenga, these proposals came in response to Chancellor Andrew Leavitt’s comment last fall, “The amount of revenue UW Oshkosh brings in does not cover our expenditures. This leaves a deficit that we have traditionally covered with the use of unrestricted fund balances. This future is, in a word, unsustainable.”

“There were many meetings involving students, faculty, staff, the administration, where we started exploring every idea anybody could think of for ways that the campus can stay afloat,” Bentivenga said.

Currently, students at UWO are able to take up to 12 credit hours before hitting the plateau. The tuition plateau allows students to go up to 18 credit hours without having to pay. Above or below that plateau, students have to pay by the credit hour.

UWO is also the only UW school that includes interim in its tuition plateau. Decoupling the interim periods from the regular semesters in terms of the tuition plateau would mean that UWO would charge students separately for interim.

UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt explained the benefits of decoupling interim.

“The first is, we will generate additional revenue for the University by charging tuition when before we couldn’t,” Leavitt said. “Another way that we will benefit is no doubt, it will affect our demand. The demand in the interims might go down, and as they do go down, that means that we will end up offering fewer sections, which it costs money to do. The benefit to our students is, once we get more revenue then you’re going to see the ceasing of the erosion of our services.”

Leavitt also explained that decoupling interim could help improve our high drop rate for courses.

“Often times people don’t value the things that don’t cost them money, there is some evidence that sometimes students will drop classes, we do have a high drop rate at this institution, knowing that they can pick up the same class again during interim,” Leavitt said. “The problem with that model is that it costs the University an awful lot of money when that happens. Knowing that you have to pay for that class and interim might keep students from being so hasty to drop a class.”

Leavitt said he doesn’t think decoupling interim would negatively affect students graduation time rates.

“We have one of the lowest four-year graduation rates in the system as it is with the interim,” Leavitt said. “We’re not sure what the correlation is between the coupled interim and the plateau and the graduation rate is, but it will be interesting to see what happens to the graduation rates as students start having to pay for the course that they take.”

OSA President Jared Schadrie said the University could save a lot of money by decoupling interim.

“We are looking to save about $500,000 to $3.6 million by decoupling interim,” Schadrie said. “The reason why it’s such a large range is because our deficit is $9.6 million, and it really depends on the elasticity of whether students are still going to take interim or not.”

Schadrie said the University wouldn’t implement the per credit model for a couple years.

“Going to a per credit system can be very difficult, so that could be a 2-3 year process,” Schadrie said. “It’s not as simple as decoupling. With decoupling, the Chancellor could send a letter to President Ray Cross and it’s just a schedule of change. Right now we are looking at decoupling for two years, and then we would go to per credit in 2-3 years if the numbers came back that it would help our university because once you go to per credit they’re essentially decoupled because you’re paying for each credit.”

Schadrie also explained the resolution to Implement programmatic differential tuition on upper-level undergraduate courses.

“It was our suggestion that we just do the upper-level classes, so 300- 400 level classes because we didn’t want freshmen or sophomores that still might be deciding what major they are going to do,” Schadrie said. “We don’t want those lower classes having to have program DT cuts if students are still exploring those.”

According to Schadrie, UWO has a low University-level differential tuition compared to levels present at peer institutions within the University of Wisconsin System.

“At OSA, we actually asked them to add item D, the broad differential tuition program, because DT helps pay for the counseling center, tutoring, the math lab, all these help services, and right now they are really under-funded.”

Leavitt said changes could be put in to place as early as next year.

“We have not made any decision on what to do,” Leavitt said. “If we were to decide to decouple the interim, the earliest that that could possibly be implemented would be in the Spring semester of next year.”