The Arizona Desert Lamp

GPSC statement on fees

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 26 March 2009

Thanks to GPSC President Stephen Bieda, the GPSC’s official stance on the proposed fees:

Fee Policy Statement 

Considering the rise of new fees in light of the economic crisis our State and University face, The Graduate & Professional Student Council propose the following provisions attach to new fees and fee increases: 

1. A Sunset Clause: given that the current fee requests are induced by the present economic downturn of the State economy, and that economic recovery is expected within the next two years, we request that fees be re-approved after two years (i.e., in FY 2011). This length of time is based on economic forecasts published by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee.

2. A “Minimum Enrollment Requirement:” students should not be subject to fees if they do not meet minimum enrollment requirement for financial aid (e.g., this currently stands at six credit hours).

3. A “Distance Learning Exemption:” distance learning students should be exempt from paying fees that fund on-campus services only (such as the Rec Center fee).

4. Fee Remission: since fee amounts are becoming very significant, we believe GAs should receive full fee remission. Failure to do so endangers competitiveness of our graduate programs, since it equates to incomplete tuition remission and a pay cut for students providing key services to the University, whether as teaching or research assistants.

5. Commensurate Financial Aid Eligibility: All students who pay fees should receive an equal opportunity to the financial aid derived from those fees.  This includes all graduate and professional students, including non-degree-seeking and international students. We ask that the University continue and strengthen its commitment to financial aid for the graduate and professional student population.

The first three points here are excellent; hopefully, ASUA will join with the GPSC on these provisions. A sunset clause should not only be considered for the upcoming fees, but should be necessary for all approved fees. The minimum enrollment requirement may seem obvious, but it actually stands in stark contrast to most extant fees – students taking less than six units still must pay the Rec Center Program Fee, the Rec Center Bond Fee, the Student Services Fee, and the IT/Library Fee. The fact that a student body even feels the need to remind regents not to assign service fees to those that cannot access those services speaks to the absurdity of these proposals.

Points 4 and 5 are more self-serving – which is to be expected. GAs may be seeing a de facto “pay cut” with these fee increases, but one could equally say that undergraduates are facing “tax increases” – so long as GAs have access to these services, they’re stuck in this with the rest of us. (Which is to say – to arms!) The last point is less objectionable, yet it’s hard to see how it doesn’t boil down to less aid for those seeking their first degree, aid which instead will be allocated to those seeking, at minimum, their second.

Also, the GPSC polls open tomorrow, and will remain open until April 3, at 5:00 PM. Any graduate readers are encouraged to vote, although as non-constituents the writers of this site must profess to knowing very little about the election (if any grad students are willing to discuss the election on this site, please contact us). Those with a general interest in government might take time to marvel a system where candidates actually have defined constituencies.


3 Responses

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  1. Ben Kalafut said, on 27 March 2009 at 1:43 am

    It ought to be objectionable that financial aid is being derived from fees in the first place, especially aid for grad students; grads aren’t supposed to receive aid at all but rather remuneration for services rendered. Weird.

    A fee increase is a little different for a grad student. We don’t work summer jobs, we don’t work weekend jobs; the perhaps ill-named “grad school” is our job. We teach and we produce most of the scholarship that makes a research university a research university. And the sunk costs are tremendous once one is done with the few classes and devoted solely to research; we can’t take a year off to earn a professional’s salary and we can’t transfer, without both starting over and fouling up the professional relationships that are essential to moving on in either an industrial or an academic careers post-PhD. PhD work is “sticky” and there’s only so much hit we can take.

    If the fees were non-mandatory I’d say you were exactly right. But grads can’t skip the fee and forgo the service, and when they made the decision to come to the U of A and not someplace else, remission was part of the compensation package. You can say that when an undergrad decides to come, it’s in part based on the fee structure on enrollment, but increases in price of an undergrad education are nearly universally expected, whereas pay cuts for grad students are truly exceptional.

  2. […] The best least-bad option is probably the specific fees, but only insofar as they have the GPSC-recommended sunset provisions and provide the opportunity for public review every two years. Otherwise, the […]

  3. […] the graduates from stirring. It should be pointed out that the GPSC is simultaneously asking for fee remission as they push this […]

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