The Student Association met this week to continue its discussion on bylaws and to deliberate on a future SA fee that should apply for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The proposal for the new fee still needs to be approved by the Senate in two weeks and budget hearings still have to take place this month.
The SA fee increases annually by $3 for students, but the new minimum fee will not affect returning students, as they are locked in to the rate they currently pay.
If the current legislation is not repealed, the SA fee for new students for the 2016-2017 academic year will be $181, according to a document prepared by Vice President of Finance Ryan Ferguson.
The fees coincide with the Higher Education Price Index, or HEPI, which calculates the price of college education and adjusts it based on inflation and other economic factors.
The same document estimates 2,779 students are expected to qualify as “new” students, either freshmen or transfer, for the upcoming school year at Plattsburgh State. This would provide $6,947.50 in revenue for the SA.
Ferguson said the fee is being increased for several reasons. There has been a decline in enrollment, meaning fewer students to contribute to the fees. The minimum wage is expected to increase over the next few years, which affects the school’s overall budget. This year, the SA has had to account for 10 new clubs and organizations on campus, which puts a stress on the budget.
Lastly, some clubs have requested budgets of several thousand dollars.
Ferguson said the SA is looking at $16,000 in cuts to cover the budget deficit. The cuts would occur in services and programs offered by the SA, as well as budgeting for clubs and organizations.
SA President Michael Kimmer said the budget will aim to ease the deficit, decreasing the number of cuts required.
“I would encourage clubs and organizations to reach for the stars and to be ambitious.” Kimmer said, “But to be ambitious as a club, you need funding.”
Kimmer said he also wants to use the new fee to provide more services for students. He wants to use the revenue increase to provide expansive library hours.
Kimmer noted that state schools, such as PSUC, are seeing a decrease in state funding. He said approximately 20 percent of funding previously came from tuition dollars and the other 80 percent was covered by state funding.
During the meeting, Executive Vice President Isabella Sofia said it might be difficult to gain students’ approval of the fee increase because raising the mandatory fee to $3 was difficult enough.
Vice President Taeko Kelly criticized the rate increase, noting it may impact families who are already struggling to pay for education.
Kimmer said the fee would not cause any “significant impact,” as students would be “willing to make the sacrifice.”
He also said it was hard to gauge how students felt about the increase, as the students who are affected by the increase will not be on campus until the fall.
The Executive Council agreed any amount would provide and help services on campus and alleviate the number of cuts that would have to be made for clubs and organizations.
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