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    Wednesday, November 20, 2019-3:56:39A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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After protest, UOG revises tuition hike

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Pressure from student protesters prompted the University of Guam Board of Regents Wednesday afternoon to delay — and stretch — the period for implementing a 30 percent tuition increase.

UOG’s administration estimated more than 100 students walked out of classes Wednesday afternoon.

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University of Guam students hold signs as they march in protest of a proposal to raise tuition and fees on Wednesday.  Photo by David Castro/The Guam Daily Post

The students oppose the 30 percent increase that was previously planned to begin with a 10 percent increase in January 2020 and fully implemented within a year or by the spring of 2021.

In a special meeting amid the student protests, the Board of Regents passed a resolution approving tuition increases beginning in the August to December 2020 semester.

“The first tuition increase will be up to 5 percent in August, with up to 5 percent increases in each of the following five semesters or until reaching 30 percent,” UOG stated in a press release.

The resolution also states that UOG President Thomas Krise will have the authority to lower, cancel, or delay any tuition increases throughout this period.

Walking out

Just after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, students held protest signs, saying: “We will rise above you,” “Higher tuition=Higher dropout” and “Rise above tuition hikes.”

Nolan Flores, a merit scholar and sophomore at UOG, said, “It’s a very dramatic tuition increase that will have harmful effects on our university.”

“Enrollment is likely to drop. Many students simply can’t afford to pay a 30 percent increase in what they already pay,” Flores added.

“We are hoping to either get rid of the tuition increase hopefully or lower the amount.”

Sen. Amanda Shelton, chairwoman of the Guam Legislature’s Committee on Higher Education, opposed the tuition increase proposal.

In a statement, she said she ensured that UOG received $5.5 million more in allotments this year than in the previous fiscal year.

“My foremost concern is the interest of all our students, many of whom already struggle to afford college and rely on federal and local aid to cover their cost of education,” wrote Shelton to UOG’s board and administration Wednesday.

A rise in student tuition is directly correlated to the enrollment levels of the university, Shelton added. Enrollment at UOG has steadily declined since the hike in student tuition in 2015 and that change in tuition was 5 percent, the senator stated.

Budget shortfall

UOG’s budget request for fiscal year 2020 was $38.57 million. UOG officials told senators that the amount was needed for operations and for maintenance that had been deferred for years.

They also told senators that anything short of that budget amount could force a tuition increase.

Senators appropriated $27.6 million from the General Fund for operations, and an additional $5.1 million from either the general or unspecified special funds for federal match grants.

Students were heard

Krise acknowledged the students’ protest influenced the decision to revise the tuition increase implementation.

“Our students let their voices be known, and we heard them loud and clear,” Krise said. “Our Board of Regents and the administration listened to their comments from last week’s public hearing and were impressed with the students demonstrating today.”

The board also passed another resolution adjusting certain student and course fees. The resolution gives the UOG president the authority to delay or decrease fees if necessary.

Krise added, “I think it was great for our students to see that their opinions matter and that their ability to stand up for their beliefs can affect change. We will continue to support our students’ academic, social, and professional needs, and we hope that they will support and engage their university as a partner in their pursuit of success.”