By Jake Sambito
Why does it seem like school is getting more expensive every semester? Well, because it is. According to Jayne Sambito, the payroll director at Fitchburg State University, the state has been “level funding” the college since 2008. The college has relied on these state funds to cover payroll expenses; however, as expenses grow and funding remains the same these funds no longer cover the amount of payroll expenses they once did. The result is students pay more in fees each semester as the state keeps tuition rates also leveled.
Tuition at Fitchburg State University is $970 per year while the fees add up to $7,740 per year. At Worcester State University, undergraduate tuition and fees come to $8,157 per year.
“If reduced funding continues, Fitchburg State will be in jeopardy of becoming a private institution rather than a public university,” said Sambito.
The NEASC Self Study Report, which underscores this fact states; “In the last decade, Fitchburg State University has experienced a fundamental shift in its funding model… the reliance on tuition and fee revenue to fund operations of the institution has grown from 23% to 42%”.
These increases, mainly fee increases, fall directly on the student. The report goes on to say “the University has already shifted to a State supported institution” therefore, “securing an increase in state appropriations is crucial to our providing both an excessive and affordable education.”
According to Sambito, every state university must complete a NEASC self-study and report every ten years. Each university completes self-studies within different 10-year time frames. This year Fitchburg State completed their self-study which speaks to the trends of reduced budgets not effectively covering operating and payroll costs. Further, state funding among all the state universities and community colleges have similar problems, as they all have been level funded.
“All state universities must make up this funding gap and increasing fees is the most plausible avenue so I believe student fee’s among the state universities are likely very similar,” said Sambito.
In the end, students can continue to expect increased costs until the university’s operating burden is decreased by state appropriations. The best way to decrease student fees is to support state legislators’ and legislation that supports increased state university funding.