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IUP room, board fees may rise in 2014

by on December 06, 2013 10:55 AM

IUP students likely will have to pay more to study at the university and live on campus next fall as administrators are proposing to increase room and board fees and a tuition surcharge.

Administrators presented the proposal to the university’s trustees during their quarterly meeting Thursday. Administrators are seeking approval for a 6 percent increase in the cost of a bed in a university-owned building; a 4 percent increase in the cost of a meal plan; and an increase of between 25 percent and 33 percent in the surcharge.

“None of us likes to have increases … but they’re becoming a more and more critical part of the budget,” said Cornelius Wooten, vice president for administration and finance.

Indeed, the university is seeing the percentage of its revenue derived from state support shrink as costs rise and the annual appropriation remains flat. Wooten said that this year, slightly less than 25 percent of IUP’s revenue is from its share of the appropriation. Tuition and fees, on the other hand, make up 62 percent of that mix.

Fees alone account for a bit more than 11 percent, he said.

If the plan is approved in the spring, students would see the cost of meal plans go up between $27 and $50 per semester, depending on the plan.

The most expensive plan — 19 meals per week with 300 flex dollars — would rise from $1,550 to $1,600 per semester. The least expensive plan for on-campus residents — 10 meals a week with 300 flex dollars — would increase from $1,432 to $1,477 per semester.

Administrators said the increase is necessary to offset the debt taken on to pay for the Indiana campus’ dining facilities and the increasing price of food, labor and utilities, among other things.

As for room fees, the university is proposing a 6 percent increase in the cost of a bed in a university-owned building. The proposed increase does not apply to rooms in buildings that are part of the Residential Revival. Those rates are set independently by the Foundation for IUP, which owns them.

Rates in the university-owned buildings have risen steadily since the Residential Revival project was built — with fewer buildings of its own, there are fewer beds over which to spread operating costs.

As for the per-credit tuition surcharge, administrators announced last month that they would seek a $3 increase as a means to help balance next year’s budget. The increase would take the fee, known as the student service fee, to $15 per undergraduate credit and $12 per graduate credit.

Assuming a full-time course load of 12 credits, the increase means undergraduate students would have to pay an extra $180 per semester, or $360 per year, on top of tuition.

IUP implemented the fee in 2011-12 to offset the cost of administrative services. And in the span of two years, it has already more than doubled. With the increase, the university said it expects to generate nearly $5 million in revenue on top of tuition.

Aside from that, administrators also are proposing to increase the wellness fee, which helps cover the cost of student health services. Administrators are seeking a $12 increase, raising it by 7 percent to $182 per semester. The fee is levied against all full-time undergrads.

Administrators also want to increase a related fee that is levied against part-time undergrads and graduate students. That fee, known as the community wellness fee, also would increase by 7 percent to $46 per semester. In addition to increasing it, administrators want to make it applicable to all part-time undergrads and graduates. Currently, those students who meet certain criteria can opt out of paying it.

This year, there are 295 students who have been excused from the obligation.

Sam Kusic is a staff writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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