President Tom Courtway discussed a proposal Feb. 10 with the Student Government’s Association about an increase in facility fees of $3.50 per credit hour and a 4.5 percent increase on room and board.
The first part of the proposal includes a $3.50 increase per credit hour to the existing fee of $9.00. A student taking 15 hours would pay $105 a year or $52.50 per semester.
This increase will be used to build additional lab space to the Lewis Science Center. The existing building is 110,000 square feet and the expansion would be around 50,000 square feet and three stories tall.
Vice President of finance Diane Newton said about the decision to include this increase in tuition, “It’s interesting to note that every student, for the most part, will go through that building for at least one class.”
Newton said the facility fees are used to pay mortgages on campus buildings and this increase will help pay mortgage on the Lewis Science Center expansion.
“The increase would provide revenue of about $970,000,” Newton said. “The expansion is going to be around $950,000 depending on the interest rate during the time that we fill out the bonds.”
After the addition, renovation on the older parts of the building would begin. Renovations in the oldest part of the building would be first and would then move to the newer parts of the building. The increase would be permanent because the university would sign a 30-year bond for the new addition.
“Arkansas funding does not focus on higher education,” Courtway said. “We hardly get money from the state. To build the Lewis Science Center, we have got $4 million that the state is giving us. That building costs $17 million. Do the math. It’s less than 25 percent of the cost of that building. That’s going to be the smallest percentage of any academic building we have built so that’s the reason for the proposal of $3.50 to each credit hour.”
The 4.5 percent increase to the room and board rate would aid the university in paying back debt and improving campus safety.
“It’s important to know that we are re-investing all of this money back into facilities,” Newton said. The renovating to campus housing buildings is set to begin this summer.
“We are putting fire sprinklers in Bernard, Short/Denney and Baridon,” Courtway said, “We’re also looking at a security system upgrade. It will be about $500,000 for sprinklers and $200,000 to upgrade the security system. These increases are not something we take lightly. This is serious business.”
Junior Representative Juan Mayén said he is worried about how the out-of-state students will be affected.
“I’m just afraid that if this increase happens, it’s going to terribly affect UCA receiving out of state and international students,” Mayén said.
Courtway responded, “If out-of-state students live on campus, they get to pay in-state tuition and we’re much less expensive than most universities. Compared to that, I think that we’re very competitively priced. My goal is to increase the amount of international students within the next five years and we can do that with aggressive recruitment.”
UCA’s Board of Trustees will vote later this semester on whether the increase will pass.