Written by Joe Adgie
For the students of VSU, mandatory fees could increase for the first time in five years.
The fee increase proposals were discussed at a packed SGA meeting in the University Center, a meeting that was attended by students, administrators, and faculty alike.
The SGA is required to vote on these proposals before the administration of VSU will send these proposals to the Board of Regents for final approval.
VSU president William McKinney spoke to the SGA and explained why these fees had not changed in the past five years.
“This university has been a very responsible steward of these resources,” McKinney said. “We would not even think about bringing these proposals if we did not believe such a proposal was necessary for the maintenance of the services offered to our students.”
The first fee proposal is a $25 increase to the athletic fee to $146. Athletic director Herb Reinhard discussed this fee increase, and why he felt it was needed.
“Over the period of the 10-11 academic year to the current academic year, this institution has lost about 4,150 fee-paying students,” Reinhard said. “In the world of athletics, what that means is that the athletic fee revenue has been reduced by approximately a half million dollars.”
Reinhard also explained that the cost for athletic scholarships have not gone the same way in that time period.
“The cost of funding an athletic scholarship, which is tuition, fees, room, and board, has increased to the tune of about $140,000,” Reinhard said. “The VSU athletic department, per NCAA rules, has about 99 full scholarships within the athletic department.”
According to Reinhard, 255 student athletes at VSU are also receiving some sort of aid.
“We have done a very good job over the years of softening the blow of losing that half million dollars… with [our] … revenue lines that the athletic department has, and we have about 20 revenue lines – concessions, for example,” Reinhard said. “The problem is, with the economy the way it is right now, our corporate sales are down for the first time in about 20 years. Fundraising is flat. People are holding on to their monies.
“We are unable to absorb any more of the loss of revenue with increased other revenues.”
Reinhard explained how this fee increase would help non-student athletes on campus.
“When we win a football national championship, and we celebrate that, that impacts the value of your diploma,” Reinhard said. “The name Valdosta State is more regionally and nationally known. That’s a significant impact.”
The Athletic Fieldhouse fee is also proposed to increase by $11 to $31. This was discussed by John Crawford, president of the VSU Foundation, who owns the Fieldhouse. This fee is meant to pay off the building, which was built on a bond.
VSU pays the rent for that building to the VSU Foundation with the fields fees, according to Crawford.
“The foundation receives that rent payment, and all we do is turn right around and pay the bondholder, which is Bank of America,” Crawford said.
The Technology fee is proposed to increase by $17, from $48 to $65. This proposal is intended to improve VSU’s limited wireless services, according to Bryan Haugabrook, director of enterprise applications and analytics for VSU’s IT department.
“Right now, we have 450 megabytes total [bandwidth] on our campus,” Haugabrook said. “Hopefully, by next fall, we’ll have 1,000 megabytes, and over the next 2 to 4 years, we’re hoping to have at least 2,000 to 3,000 megabytes. What that means is that students may stream more videos, and not just videos, but high-definition videos.”
Haugabrook stated that over the course of a normal day, students watch about 700 NetFlix videos and about 7,000 to 10,000 YouTube videos per hour, from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Haugabrook also said that the technology fee increase would go to the purchase of new computers, that would be Windows 8 touchscreen consoles. Other announced intentions included replacing the projectors with giant flatscreen monitors, and upgrading computer labs and Smart classrooms.
The proposal for the parking deck fees is an $18 increase to $118. Rob Kellner, director of auxiliary services, explained the increase’s necessity.
“Had enrollment projections been what we expected, we wouldn’t be here today asking for a fee increase,” Kellner said.
Kellner explained that, like the Fieldhouse, the parking decks were built on bonds, and the fee increases were necessary for paying off these bonds, and thus keeping VSU’s bond rating, which is at A1, or an “upper-medium grade” and “subject to low credit risk,” according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Kellner hinted that if VSU can effectively pay off these decks with less than an $18 increase, that fee increase would be lowered.
The fees for the Health Facility are also proposed to increase by $6 to $46. This is for the same reason as the parking decks and the fieldhouse, while the operating fee is proposed to increase by $17 to $104.
“We have not come to this group in seven years and asked for an increase in the operating fee, because we have worked through efficiencies, even while we have added services,” Kellner said.
These efficiencies, according to Kellner, include switching to generic prescriptions, and replacing registered nurses (RNs) with licensed practical nurses (LPNs).
These fee increases will be voted on at next Monday’s SGA meeting.