UMKC SGA considers tuition change proposal

Latest SGA meeting covers possible tuition reform. (UMKC)

Claire Powell

The Student Government Association (SGA) discussed possible reforms to UMKC’s tuition payments in its Feb. 7 meeting.

Dr. Jennifer Lundgren, the executive vice chancellor of the College of Arts and Sciences, presented a differential tuition project which would substitute additional costs within course studies. Instead of displaying student payments as flat tuition plus multiple fees, the differential model would structure costs like tuition and a one-rate payment.

“There are lots of fees that add up and then it gets really confusing,” Lundgren said, speaking of the current tuition model. “You might think you’re signing up for a set of courses at a particular tuition rate, but you didn’t realize that course came with additional fees.”

The new differential tuition format will launch throughout all four UM System colleges for undergraduates only. However, each university can explore how they want to organize the tuition individually.

Lundgren provided an example for the new program which could utilize tiers — each tier rising in cost with baseline tuition plus a multiplier totaling all program and course fees. Area of studies could be grouped based on materials used, average salary after graduation, etc. 

“We’re going [to] roll all of those tuition and fees into just one rate,” Lundgren said. “In the end, the cost isn’t that different, but rather than being charged all of these separate fees, it just rolls into the tier three.”

The shift to differential tuition may extend past academics, such as a one-charge student life fee that would fund secondary dues like transportation, student union fees and library services. 

Though the group cannot decide the form of differential tuition, Lundgren approached the SGA in hopes for any feedback, questions, ideas or best ways to communicate the modifications to students.

During the open forum, Sen. Nicole Davidge advocated her support for differentiation but voiced concern for the student life toll.

“It seems like a nice, convenient way to hide transparency and kind of cover all the fees under the rug,” Davidge said. “If you just chalk it all up under one name — one umbrella — it doesn’t give students a lot of opportunity to see where that money actually goes.”

Other senators shared concerns about the issue of transparency. Some feared that without cost breakdown, incoming students may misinterpret UMKC as more expensive than what it actually is. 

“An itemized bill would have to be necessary, and yearly reports would have to be made so you can track what we are doing this year,” said Sen. Gracyn Pietrusinski.

The deadline for the new general tuition plan is March 1, but UMKC won’t implement the plan until fall 2023.

“There are material fees, equipment fees [and] program fees that are just different,” Lundgren said. “The goal of moving toward this differential tuition model is to recognize that different academic programs cost a different amount to deliver.”

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