This year, Missouri Western students can expect to pay more in tuition, and now, program fees.
This past spring, the Board of Governors voted to raise tuition 1.76 percent per the national average consumer price index (CPI), but during the summer break the Board also approved to expand program fees that are now assessed to all courses except those offered through Western Institute. The fees, which aim to generate revenue for specific departments, vary from $11 to $35 per credit hour.
The fees were approved by the Board of Governors after the Financial Planning office proposed the idea to administration and student leaders in hopes of gaining support for the fees.
Vice President for Financial Planning and Administration, Cale Fessler, explained that the fee proposal “was a very collaborative discussion process” and aims to offset declining enrollment numbers and a fixed appropriation from the state government.
“In the university’s mind and from the student leader’s support, all of us really understood the need to generate some additional dollars to maintain the quality of out academic programs. Not only maintain them but increase them,” Fessler said.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeanne Daffron noted that other schools were taken into consideration when deciding the fees; however, University of Central Missouri, Northwest Missouri State University and Missouri Southern State University only bill students for special program fees, but lack the overarching program fees Western has implemented for this fiscal year.
“Ours in most cases are very significantly lower than what’s being charged at most schools,” Daffron said. “and we looked primarily in Missouri, which is kind of what you do. … Other schools have similar economic situations so it makes sense to look at other schools in Missouri. So we did do that and we want to keep our tuition and fees as low as we possibly can.”
Student Governor Brian Shewell, former Student Government Association President Jacob Scott and current SGA President Katy Sisco all signed a letter endorsing the student fees. Shewell said that students should support the fees because the benefits outweigh the cost.
“Universities are expanding everyday and with expansion and improvement there comes a cost to it,” Shewell said. “If paying a little more to have same, if not better quality programs, I’m willing to pay them. I think students should be proud of the programs that they have.”
SGA President Katy Sisco also endorses the fees for the same reasons as Shewell.
“They’re important because this allows our campus to be competitive with other campuses and to keep our department, keep our administration, and keep the instructor to student ratio to 25:1,” Sisco said.
Despite the vast majority of courses being subjected to program fees, Fessler maintained that the new fees are not a back door tuition increase.
“I wouldn’t call it a back door because it’s not applicable to all courses on campus…”Fessler said. “It is program driven so it’s not a similar amount across all programs or something like that. I think it falls outside of something that’s applicable to in the same amount to all students as out tuition is.”