Many students either experience, or have a friend who knows first-hand, the reality of super-senior life.
For the past six years, the Student Government Association has sought to implement differential tuition, an additional tuition, as a solution to the five or six-year graduation model many students deal with.
According to the University of Wisconsin System’s website, “institution-wide differential tuition is defined as tuition that is added to the base tuition level set by the Board of Regents to supplement services and programming for students within that institution above and beyond existing activities supported by general program revenue and program revenue funding.”
Because UW-Stevens Point could implement differential tuition, SGA will hold a university-wide student referendum Nov. 11 and 12 asking students if they support it.
Adding differential tuition would cost students $200 more per semester, making UWSP the sixth-most-expensive university in the UW System at $7,687 per semester, based on pricing for the 2014-15 academic year.
But the money could work toward eliminating bottleneck courses and increasing academic advising on campus, both of which have been blamed for keeping students in school longer than necessary. The extra $200 could create 160 course offerings and about 20 faculty positions designated to high-demand areas that currently lack courses or instructors. Funding could also be put toward 12 full-time academic advisers in high-demand areas.
If students approve a differential tuition program, the first priority would be setting up a differential tuition advisory board, Chancellor Bernie Patterson said. The board would evaluate where high-demand areas are on campus and allocate funding.
“The key to differential is its flexibility. The high-demand areas would be assessed on a regular basis, and if the areas change, then the advisory board will re-allocate.”
Differential tuition also has an escape clause, which allows the board or SGA to end the program if needed. The clause is unique to UWSP.
“Providing students with an escape clause…means that we have more power, more say,” SGA Vice President Amy Vida said. “Students have leverage, an ability to decide, should they feel differential tuition isn’t doing what it is supposed to, not serving student needs, that it ought to end.”
Although differential tuition seems to be a solution to the current budget cuts UWSP faces, Patterson said this is not the case. Differential tuition is funding on top of what the university is already charging and could not be used to fill budget lapses.