While finding budget reductions is a major function of the University of Wyoming Financial Crisis Advisory Committee, searching for new or improved sources of revenue is also a top priority.
A revenue committee will soon be tasked with finding places in UW where more money could be found. Rob Godby, associate professor of economics and finance, is tasked with leading the group, the members of which have not yet been finalized.
“One of the ideas to look at are particular fees that might cover additional costs in various departments or colleges,” he said. “These are cost-based revenues looking at programs where there are additional costs needed to provide for the students.”
The 2015 fee book was about 100 pages of individual courses and the additional costs students must pay for enrollment. The large document can be confusing and might leave other courses without additional assistance, Godby said.
“The first phase is to look at how we can, and whether we should, implement program fees,” he said. “This is separate from a tuition increase. This is incurring additional costs to provide for courses.”
A new plan could create a group or program fee instead of the individual fees currently in place, Godby said.
“There could be a science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fee across all related courses or a performing arts fee for the theatrical costs associated with the program,” he said. “But right now, we haven’t determined any of this. We’re still in the process of finalizing the committee.”
Programs and courses in the College of Engineering and Applied Science could see the largest student-associated additional fees, which could greatly assist various departments in light of the $35 million state budget reduction, Dean Michael Pishko said.
“Engineering, nationally, is one of the more expensive set of degrees to offer,” he said.
“There are significant lab costs, technology requirements and very expensive software programs.”
Pishko said every department will be reviewed in search of additional costs associated with programs.
“The fee structure (UW) has right now is very low when compared to our peers,” he said. “Part of this was because of the large supplement by our state budget. But over the years and with state funding cuts, I would say developing a program fee ensures we have a mechanism in which we can operate and maintain technology and software on a regular basis.”
Much of the funding could go back to the individual departments providing the various courses, Godby said.
“The fees would largely go back to the programs that incur the cost,” he said. “There may be an overhead share. The committee will look into that during its investigation. But it’s important for the students to know their money is going back to the student through their courses.”
The revenue committee needs to have its recommendations completed by October, Godby said, before the Financial Crisis Advisory Committee is scheduled to present suggestions to Pres. Laurie Nichols in October.
Nichols will analyze the committee’s suggestions and decide on the best course of action to present to the UW Board of Trustees.