Fee cut among measures to aid students

The University of Utah will provide a $150 credit to students to reduce their fees during the Fall 2020 Semester—just one of several steps the U is taking to help students stay in school and complete their degrees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other measures benefiting students include a tuition freeze, the elimination of online course fees and the creation of an emergency aid fund. The U also has taken steps to increase efficiency and reduce expenditures.

 

The credit amounts, on average, to a 24% fee discount. As a result, a student carrying a full-time class load at the U will pay $474 a semester in fees in addition to tuition. Previously, fees were $624 a semester on average, said Mark Winter, associate vice president for budget. The fee discount will not be taken from any specific fee but will reduce students’ overall fees.

The fee reduction follows the Utah Board of Regents’ approval last spring of U President Ruth Watkins’ plan to hold tuition flat for the fall semester. The administration also plans to re-evaluate spring tuition in the coming months.

The university initially requested a 2% tuition increase, with no change in student fees—an overall 1.7% increase. By holding tuition flat, the U will forego $4.4 million in revenue for the full 2020-21 academic year.

Other cost-conscious measures adopted by the U include:

  • Absorbed a 2.5% reduction in state support, with most of that reduction in nonacademic units
  • Eliminated the $60 fee assessed for online classes
  • Disbursing over $9 million in federal CARES Act funding to aid eligible students in fall semester
  • Established a central student emergency fund with university and donor contributions to provide short-term aid
  • Expansion of the laptop loan program and created Wi-Fi hotspots around campus
  • Created For Utah Scholarship for Pell-eligible students
  • Implemented a hiring freeze except for critical roles
  • Postponed state-approved salary 2% increases for faculty and staff
  • Reduced salary for senior leaders
  • Over $6 million reduction in athletics operating funds
  • Eliminated bonuses in FY21 for athletics coaches and staff
  • Adopted operational efficiency and savings measures where possible, such as suspending nonessential purchases and renovations
  • Created review protocol for college and departmental expenditures over $10,000
  • Restricted business travel through the end of fall semester

“Our actions and decisions have been guided by our principles and values, which include directing our support to students and our current workforce,” said U Watkins. “We have deep gratitude for the innovative solutions and strategies for weathering this unprecedented challenge put forth by our students, staff and faculty throughout the U.”

University leaders decided to reduce fees in collaboration with other schools in the Utah System of Higher Education. Utah State University, the state’s other research institution, also will reduce its fees by $150 during the fall.

Annual student tuition and fees are about equal to state appropriations in the university’s budget—approximately $367 million each.

“We are sensitive to the fiscal challenges faced by our students at this time,” Winter said. “As a public institution, the university works to operate as close to actual costs as possible, and we are committed to working diligently to keep those costs as low as possible in the interest of helping students stay in school and complete their degrees.”