ST. GEORGE — Just ahead of the first day of fall semester, the Utah System of Higher Education college and university leaders announced plans to reduce student fees for the fall 2020 semester. Reductions range from 15% to 40% – a savings of up to $150 for each full-time student.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted some services offered to students on campus. Because of this, efforts were made to work with students and campus leadership to make cuts to student fees to help students financially during this time.
Student fees generally support on-campus services such as health care, campus recreation and software licenses. Utah’s public technical colleges do not have general student fees. Technical college fees are tied to specific courses and programs, which are not affected in the same way as the general student fees at USHE degree-granting colleges and universities.
Dixie State University is offering a 27% reduction in student fees, which equals about $113 for a full-time student. Students who have already paid this fee will receive a credit on their account, according to a statement from the university.
Del Beatty, Dixie State interim vice president of student affairs, told St. George News that deciding on fee reductions was a collaborative process among students, advisors, budget administrators and others who looked closely at the fees to decide which of the fees directly impact the students. And then they considered what cuts could be made to provide some relief to the students.
One of the fees they cut is a type of savings account. The other fee was for fall sports, which have been postponed until the spring semester.
With students returning to an untraditional setting, Beatty said no one really knows what this semester is going to look like, “everyone’s running around with their face masks on trying to see what it’s really like.”
Because of this heightened anxiety, being able to reduce some of the costs, he hopes, will provide students some relief.
“While it’s only $113, that’s extra money for students,” he said. “It’s coming back as a refund to them if they’ve already paid it, or it’s just not going to be assessed and it’s additional money that they going to be able to have in their pockets.”
Penny Mills, student body president at Dixie State who helped figure out which fees could be cut, told St. George News that for her, as a college student, any money is good money.
“I don’t come from a super-wealthy family, so I know it can be tough and money is tough, especially right now with the circumstances,” she said. “I think that any money that students can get put back into their pocket from the university is good money.”
Dixie State students return to campus for in-person classes on Monday. To safeguard against the spread of COVID-19, many of the classes will be taught on a hy-flex model, in which half of the students will attend in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday and then tune in to livestream, synchronous learning on Zoom for classes on Wednesday and Thursday.
The other half of the student population will start their week on Monday and Tuesday tuning into a live stream and then attend in-person on Wednesday and Thursday. The idea is that this will reduce the number of students on campus at any given time.
Southern Utah University has also reduced student fees by 40% for the upcoming fall semester, which equates to an approximate $152.70 cut, according to a statement released by the university.
The amount of SUU’s fee reduction this fall exceeds the student athletic fee and several other fees charged along with tuition each semester, according to the statement. Other than the lack of athletic competitions this fall, SUU plans to host a full list of student activities, although modified to meet safety protocols.
SUU has not had an increase in tuition or fee for the past two years and provides a permanent tuition reduction for students completing one of its online bachelor’s degree programs.
“The university is committed to keeping the campus as safe as possible for all students, faculty, staff, and community members,” SUU President Scott L Wyatt said in the statement. “We are also committed to helping students finish their degrees during this financially difficult time. We have been very careful with our budgets and can manage this fee reduction for one semester in order to help our students and their families who are supporting them.”
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