UM may tack on $15 in extra fees

November 23, 2005|By LIZ BOWIE AND SARAH ABRUZZESE | LIZ BOWIE AND SARAH ABRUZZESE,SUN REPORTERS

The University of Maryland is considering a proposal to raise student fees by $15 a year to cover rising energy costs in the aftermath of hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

The increase would be on top of a $70 increase approved by a committee made up of College Park students and administrators.

In total, the current $1,255 in annual student fees would increase by $85 next fall, according to Cassandra Robinson, a university spokeswoman. The fees, which are in addition to tuition, cover recreational activities.

The increase must be approved by the university president and administrators next month and by the Board of Regents before it would take effect.

Students appeared resigned to the increase.

"These fee increases, while unfortunate, are necessary," said Student Government Association President Andrew J. Rose.

The mandatory student fees go to cover the cost of the student union, athletic events, shuttle bus service and a recreation facility with a pool and gym, as well as other services.

The choice, Rose said, was to accept cuts in services or to pass on the estimated $800,000 increase in energy costs for those services.

Rose was one of four students serving on the committee who approved the rate increase last week in an emergency meeting. The committee had set the rate for the fall, but Rose said it was forced to address the additional costs after the hurricanes.

Students interviewed on campus seemed to agree with the proposal.

"It is reasonable based on the way utilities themselves are rising," said Justin Canning, 20, a junior majoring in accounting and finance.

But, he added, "consistently every semester it is something new. ... It gets to be sort of a pain."

The University System of Maryland raised tuition 5.8 percent for the current academic year and nearly 30 percent during the previous two years, when the schools received no increase in state aid.

Lindsay Hatleberg, 20, a junior marketing major, also described the proposed fee increase as reasonable. Her parents pay her tuition, and since she transferred to College Park from a private college, the bill is a lot less.

"They don't complain about it at all," she said.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County is proposing to increase its student fees by 5.5 percent, or about $112, according to Charles Fey, the vice president for student affairs at UMBC.

"We planned for an energy increase, but not as much as it has gone up," Fey said. The regents also will have to approve the UMBC increase.

The Johns Hopkins University has no plans to change student costs in the middle of the year, according to Dennis O'Shea, Hopkins spokesman. "Energy rates, certainly that is going to affect us. In everything from gasoline for our vehicles to heating and power generation," he said.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com sabruzzese@baltsun.com

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