IUP raises student fees
March 14, 2014 11:00 AM
by SAM KUSIC
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IUP trustees have agreed to raise room and board fees as well as per-credit surcharge for next fall.

Trustees approved the increases during their quarterly meeting Thursday at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney campus.

So in September, students who purchase a meal plan will pay an additional 3 or 4 percent, which works out to between an extra $27 and $50 per semester, depending on the plan. With the increase, a plan consisting of 14 meals per week, with $300 in flex cash, would cost $1,528 per semester.

As for room rates, those are to increase 6 percent.

The increase pertains only to university-owned units. Rates for suites in the Residential Revival buildings are set independently by the Foundation for IUP, which owns them. Those rates are increasing generally by around 3 percent for next year.

The inflation rate currently stands at 1.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Officials, as in past years, said the increased room rates in the university buildings is needed as the university has few beds over which to spread costs. The number of beds was reduced by the Residential Revival project.

At the same time, internal charges, such as for custodial services and supplies, have increased. And so have fixed expenses, such as for salary and benefits, officials said.

As for the meal prices, the increases reflect costs associated with the university’s overhaul to its dining facilities and other factors, such as student demands for healthier food choices and longer operating hours; rising utility costs; and increasing wages and benefits, the university said.

Room and board rates aside, the trustees also approved an increase to a per-credit surcharge known as the student service fee. The fee is rising by $3 per credit. With the increase, each undergraduate credit will cost $15 on top of tuition; each graduate credit will cost an extra $12.

As a result, an undergraduate student taking the minimum full-time course load of 12 credits will have to pay $180 per semester on top of tuition. Administrators proposed the increase to cover an expected budget shortfall for next year.

Assuming all projections bear out, the university is looking at a deficit of around $2.56 million.

To close the gap, President Michael Driscoll announced last week that the university would cover about half of it making use of central savings. The rest, he said, would have to come in the form of permanent budget reductions. He said the university’s vice presidents will have until May 2 to propose cuts.

The university builds its budget projections on three main factors: tuition, enrollment and the state appropriation. Administrators are working on the assumption that tuition will rise 3 percent, and they assume the state appropriation will remain unchanged from this fiscal year — the governor has proposed just that in his 2014-15 budget.

Administrators are also working on the assumption that enrollment will remain the same. This fall, it stood at 14,728 students.

And to help ensure that it, at the least, remains the same, or, at best, increases, trustees on Thursday approved a request to double the dollars being set aside for a new tuition grant.

The university created the one-time, $2,000 grant last year as a way to drive enrollment. Administrators had $500,000 to hand out; now they’ll have $1 million.

Jim Begany, vice president for marketing and enrollment management, said that the grant seems to have been a valuable incentive for students to choose IUP.

He said that between fall 2012 and fall 2013, the university realized a 17 percent increase in its “yield,” a measure of how many students applied for financial aid at IUP and then ultimately decided to attend.

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