The South Dakota Board of Regents will vote on the approval of an increase in student fees at the University of South Dakota for the 2013-14 school year, according to Jessica Priester, director of Budget and Finance at USD.
The need to increase student fees is because of an expected 15 percent hike in student health insurance rates for the upcoming year.The Board will make their decision whether to raise student fees, and how much, during their meeting April 2-4.
Funds for Student Health derive from the General Activities Fund (GAF), which is composed of students’ annual tuition and fees.
he 15 percent increase in USD student health insurance costs is following a nationwide trend, said Preister.
“This is just something happening all around the country,” Preister said.
If the Board of Regents strikes down the raise in student fees, the university has a plan ready to make up for the remaining costs because of the insurance hike.
According to Priester, depending on the outcome of the Board of Regents meeting in April, the university could opt to make cuts to GAF funding for the 2013-14 school year in place of raised tuition and fees.
USD Student Government Business Manager Kara Fischbach said the GAF committee has prepared a six percent cut across the board in funding for the upcoming year.
Cuts in GAF funding would take away dollars from various aspects of USD, including the law school, the Muenster University Center and the journalism department.
Fischbach said while USD activities are not directly affected by these tentative cuts, organizations will still feel the effects of GAF cuts, including SGA.
“SGA is underneath Student Services, which is underneath the GAF funding for the MUC, so even SGA will be feeling the effects of these cuts,” said Fischbach.
Fischbach said the MUC would experience the most substantial cuts, taking a 10 percent cut in GAF funds.
Department Chair of the Contemporary Media and Journalism Department Michelle Van Maanen said cuts to the journalism department, more specifically the broadcast program, would be harmful to the program.
“Those funds are the primary source of operational funds for KYOT Radio, Coyote News and KYOT-TV,” Van Maanen said. “It will definitely be difficult to fill in gap, if that money is no longer there.”
Van Maanen said the resources provided by GAF funding are indispensable.
“The things GAF funding go towards add a sense of community and can be cricial to the experience students are look for,” Van Maanen said.
In addition to facing an increase in student health insurance, USD is also in the midst of dealing with an unexpected increase of employee health insurance rates, leaving the university at a nearly $600,000 loss for the upcoming fiscal year.
The SDBOR will make their decision during their meeting at Northern State University in Aberdeen April 2-4.