Weber State University first day of school

Students return to Weber State University for the start of the 2020-2021 school year on Monday, August 24, 2020. Tuition and fees at the school will go up by 2% for the 2021-2022 academic year.

SALT LAKE CITY — College students at most institutions throughout the state will see an expected bump in tuition and fees next year after the Utah Board of Higher Education approved adjustments Thursday.

Holding steady with numbers from recent years, tuition and fees at Weber State University will go up by 2%, just as they did in 2020 and 2019. That increase is slightly higher than the state average of 1.98%. For resident undergraduate students taking between 11 and 18 credit hours, that translates to a $122 higher bill over the course of two semesters.

"We think that we’ve kept the lid on tuition increases and the trend has been continually going down," said Nolan Karras, the chair of Weber State's board of trustees, during the Thursday meeting. "We can see we’re in pretty good shape compared to the other institutions.

The highest increase in the state was at Dixie State University, which raised tuition by 3.53%, or $200. Southern Utah University, meanwhile, managed to cut the price of attendance by 0.64%. Area technical colleges did not raise tuition at all, as they are entirely funded by the Utah State Legislature.

 Tuition and fees increases at Utah higher education institutions

Institution 

Dollars (For a resident undergraduate student taking 15 credits per semester for two semesters)
Percent 
 University of Utah $151 1.56%
 Utah State University $195 2.49%
 Utah State University — Eastern, Moab, Blanding $106 2.42%
 Weber State University $122 2.00%
 Southern Utah University -$44 -0.64%
 Snow College $88 2.25%
 Dixie State University $200 3.53%
 Utah Valley University $104 1.76%
 Salt Lake Community College $97 2.43%

This year, Weber State was required by the Legislature to raise its tuition by at least 1.49%. After that, according to Vice President for Administrative Services Norm Tarbox, the university saw three needs that needed to be addressed by an increase in tuition and fees: funding for faculty promotions, rising utilities rates and outdated administrative software.

"We live and breathe by how well we teach and how good our faculty is and we continue to worry about making sure that our faculty is promoted as they are eligible and that we have a good faculty and that they’re supported," Karras said in the meeting.

The school determined it needs approximately $495,000 for promotions. Most of that will come from budget reallocations and other funding sources, but $190,842 will come from tuition, representing 0.25% of the increase. 

According to Weber State, it also needs $128,000 for growing power, natural gas and water rates, as well as $84,000 to replace an outdated administrative software system used by its employees. The university asked the Legislature to provide funding for some of these needs, but the body declined, according to the school's presentation at the meeting.

These increases were presented at an annual Truth-in-Tuition meeting held at the school in February. According to reporting from the school's student newspaper, The Signpost, approximately 50 students attended. 

"I heard nothing but great things from the students as the school was transparent and upfront," said Ben Ferney, president of the Weber State University Student Association, reflecting on the response from students at the meeting.

Another change presented at that meeting and approved by the board was the shift of some student fees to tuition costs, as required by a Utah System of Higher Education policy revision from October 2020. That policy dictates that "institutions may not use revenue from general student fees to fund instruction, academic support, general administrative expenses, or other expenses that should reasonably be covered with state appropriations or tuition."

Accordingly, Weber State next year will begin wrapping its computer lab fee and computer fee into tuition. A portion of the school's activity fee and union fee also will move over to tuition expenses. 

Utah Higher Education Board Member Scott Theurer expressed concern about USHE's new policy, overall, saying, "As I sat in on the review of tuition and fees by Utah State, it became very apparent that when we moved fees to tuition, we lose a tremendous amount of transparency, and I think that needs to be certainly on our minds as we consider approving these fees and tuition today."

Fees that fall under tuition will no longer be reviewed by student-led committees, like the Student Fee Recommendation Committee at Weber State, which is co-chaired by Ferney. From the perspective of Utah Board of Higher Education Chair Harris Simmons, though, the change gives students a better idea of what they will be paying year to year.

"We’ve taken steps as a Board in recent months to ensure that the cost of college is clear to Utah students,” Simmons said in a press release. “Beyond public Truth-in-Tuition hearings held by Utah colleges, many general student fees are now wrapped into tuition, giving students a more straightforward look at college costs.

Contact reporter Emily Anderson at eanderson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @emilyreanderson.

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