The collateral damage of freezing tuition

As the calendar rolls toward the June 30 deadline, SCSU will be closer to finding out whether MNSCU’s request for $142 million will be met in order to cover the likely tuition freeze.

On the surface, a tuition freeze seems like a good thing for students. Tuition doesn’t go up, but it causes issues within the budget, because the projections do not take into account the possible drops in future enrollment, meaning the possibility of less students translating to less money to cover teacher salaries, and everything else that is covered by tuition.

Tuition stays the same while there are fewer students paying it.

“It makes politicians look good to say ‘hey, I froze tuition,'” said Matt Gutsch, Student Government’s election chair. “But long term, it actually damages the system.”

Two previous tuition freezes–one in 2010 and another in 2012–has put SCSU in this situation even though enrollment is declining. The funding level that was projected to stay the same prior to the tuition freezes hasn’t.

This means that with another freeze combined with the current trend of enrollment, funding could be running off track.

The $142 million request brought forth by MNSCU would help subsidize the drop in enrollment without raising tuition. However, keep in mind that MNSCU includes 54 schools, and the money would be divided among them.

SCSU is requesting $10.8 million for faculty and staff, along with an additional $3.9 million for other inflationary operating costs. Because of the financial situation SCSU is in, that money would not be enough to dig us out of the hole that the tuition freezes and drop enrollment has placed SCSU in.

“I think, although the $142 million request is great, it’s not going to help us as much as other schools just because we have a bigger deficit,” said SCSU Student Government President Lindsey Gunnerson. She said that the money is in support of a tuition freeze, however, if the school has a deficit, they must come up with that money elsewhere.

“And we are in a lot of debt,” she said.

Despite the uncertainty involving the budget and tuition, student government is still planning for the future of St. Cloud State University.

“We’re planning on launching our Alumni Association either next week or mid-April to get our student government alumni more involved, to get them to start giving back to our organization and help with more difficult projects that need more financial push,” Gunnerson said.

They are also trying to pass a new constitution that would create new chair positions, at large senator positions, that would include more interest groups, and new committees, among other things. But in order for it to pass, 8 percent of the students would need to vote on it. President Gunnerson said that number is usually around only 5 percent.

“Everyone seems to think it’s a great idea, we just haven’t had the voter turnout so we’re doing a lot of educating to get people to vote,” she said. Gunnerson said that it’s important to note that the current constitution was “set in 2010 and we’ve changed as a student body in the last five years and have different needs now.”

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