Parents figuring out a budget to send their children to Fort Lewis College will have additional calculations to make.
The FLC Board of Trustees on Friday approved increases in fees for room and board and mandatory and course fees.
Tuition also will go up, but the board cannot approve the amount until its meeting at the end of May, after the state Legislature approves the Long Bill.
The current estimate is that both in-state and nonresident tuition will increase by 5 percent. At that rate, resident tuition would go from $6,360 to $6,678 per year, and nonresident tuition from $16,072 to $16,876.
The nonresident tuition has remained the same for eight years, but this is the first year the state’s Joint Budget Committee seems willing to accept an out-of-state increase, said Steve Schwartz, vice president for finance and administration. The state pays nonresident tuition for out-of-state Native Americans attending Fort Lewis on the tuition waiver, which is why increases have been at issue.
Room and boardRoom rates will increase by an average of 2 percent, and board rates will rise about 3.5 percent. The average cost for living on campus will go up from $9,790 for two semesters to $10,142.
“The board fee is the big change,” said Michele Peterson, assistant vice president for finance and administration. “We’ve been offering a 12-meal plan where students got an all-you-can-eat breakfast and dinner, and $500 in Flex Plan dollars to be used in any dining venue. We’ve found that students are running out of their flex dollars really early in the semester.”
Before creating meal plans for the 2017-18 school year, staff met with student government, she said.
“We have a real concern that students aren’t getting enough to eat,” she said. “The food insecurity piece is significant.”
The college will offer a 19-meal plan, which allows students to eat at every single all-you-can-eat meal offered in the dining hall, plus $200 in Flex Plan dollars for coffee and snacks at other food purveyors in the Student Union. The 19-meal plan will cost $2,475 per semester compared with $2,233 for the 12-meal plan.
A second level would be a 14-meal plan with $350 in flex money. The 10-meal plan will remain the same with a price of $2,112.
Commuter students and apartment residents will find a restructured plan, going from two meals per week and $200 in flex money to 30 meals with $200 in flex dollars, which can be purchased multiple times in a semester as needed. The commuter price will remain the same at $473. The new room and board average takes the college over $10,000, which a price-sensitivity survey last year said might be a deciding factor for people when looking at FLC.
“They didn’t consider that housing is so unavailable in Durango,” Peterson said, adding that expenses such as utilities continue to rise.
Board of Trustees Chairman Steve Short was concerned the quality of the food would decrease as quantity increased.
“The food service manager believes she can provide good quality food for the students,” Peterson said. “They buy a lot of food from the Old Fort, and Sodexo (the contracted food provider) has a lot of good systems in place to control costs.”
Student feesMandatory student fees will increase from $58.15 to $62.95 per credit hour, an increase of about $144 per year on average. Current student fees are $1,744, which includes $200 to pay for building the Student Life Center and $500 to pay for the remodel of the Student Union. Both construction fees were approved by the student body in elections.
Total mandatory fees will be about $1,888 for next year.
Instructional class fees are analyzed by a Student Fee Review Board, seven students who review presentations and make recommendations to the Budget Committee. This year, the Budget Committee adopted the students’ recommendations. Most instructional class fees will remain the same, but 13 new fees have been added, mostly in education, and nine have been increased, mostly for science and engineering classes.
The education fees are mostly for required background checks for student teachers.
“Biology and some engineering classes asked for a lot more, but while the student review board recommended increasing the fees, it wasn’t to the level requested.”
There was a reason for that, said Connor Cafferty, president of the Associated Students of Fort Lewis College, who sits on the fee board.
“Biology and some engineering courses asked for fees for supplies that are good for one-time uses, and we could see the need for that,” Cafferty said. “But they also asked for fees for maintenance of equipment, like microscopes. We believe that should come out of their academic budget because we shouldn’t have to pay extra for the equipment needed to do the work.”