Feb 152010
 
Authors: Seth Anthony

The CSU administration has lately been looking for “alternative revenue streams” –– ways to bring in more money to compensate for decreasing funding from the state of Colorado. Unfortunately, one of those “revenue streams” is increases in tuition and fees –– a direction that will hurt students, many of whom are already struggling to figure out how they’re going to pay next semester’s bills.

It’s time for us to speak up as students that we find this situation unacceptable.

You may have heard that the legislature and governor, in their budget proposals, feel our pain and have seen fit to keep tuition increases in check. The maximum tuition will rise next year for undergraduates is, in fact, already set at about nine percent (grad students aren’t so lucky –– we’re facing a 15 percent increase), but one area that the legislature hasn’t brought under control is the ever-increasing burden of student fees.

CSU President Tony Frank is currently looking into the possibility of increasing –– possibly even doubling –– one of these fees: the university facilities fee. This $10 per semester paid by each student is used to pay back loans that the university takes out in order to pay for new academic buildings such as the new Academic Instruction Building south of Clark, the new Computer Science Building off of the Plaza and the recent addition to Rockwell Hall. 

The university has created quite a conundrum for itself, actually –– by taking advantage of the facilities fee, recent low interest rates and the current low cost of construction to fund so many new buildings, they’ve created the impression among much of the public and even among some students that there is no funding shortfall.

After five years of funding new loans, though, the income stream from the university facilities fee is almost tapped out, so university leaders are keen to increase the fee to pay for new projects, including a new Engineering Building and renovations to Morgan Library. 

Pushing the costs of campus construction onto students is also a fundamental change in how the university pays for these capital projects. Before 2005, most of these funds came straight from the state budget. By shifting our funding stream, the university is essentially writing off the state as a source of construction funding –– giving up on a century-long relationship (although, to be fair, after the state apparently did so first).

We also have to ask, what’s going to happen in another five years? The university has over $100 million in projects ready to go if an increase in the facilities fee is approved. Any new income will quickly be used up out as CSU maxes out the facilities fee credit card to pay for new construction. If we still need new and improved buildings five years from now (and we will), the administration will likely be back yet again with another request to increase the facilities fee on the backs of students. This is not a sustainable course of action.

With the student recreation center fee already set to rise $35.00 per student in the fall, a doubling of the facilities fee on top of that will mean that the total fee package for a full-time undergraduate will increase by at least 25 percent –– rising more than twice as fast as tuition.

If this situation is unacceptable to you, if you think that the university needs to stop simply passing along costs to students, if you think that the state actually ought to chip in more substantially for a state university –– then you need to come out to Wednesday’s rally at noon on the LSC Plaza. The presence of thousands of students will send the message that we won’t quietly accept the status quo of rapidly-rising tuition and fees –– that we intend to do something about it, and that the state of Colorado had better do so as well. It’s time to make a statement.

Seth Anthony is a chemistry graduate student. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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