Reduction of tuition benefit to be on December BOR Agenda

Hello UA Staff. I am your Staff Alliance Chair, Carey D. Brown, and I would like to update you on developments from the most recent Board of Regents (BOR) meeting held in Anchorage on November 6, 2013. This meeting was primarily regarding the budget. However, Staff Alliance, Faculty Alliance, and the Coalition of Student Leaders were allowed to provide an update on their respective activities. There was also public testimony allowed.

During the first budget agenda motion, approval of student tuition rates for Academic Year 2015, a lengthy discussion about how to address perpetually rising tuition and student debt ensued. During this, Regent Fisher proposed an ammendment eliminating the tuition increase for all residents and recovering that income by cutting the tuition benefit for employees in half. The topic was out of order for this BOR meeting because it addresses policy change, but we can very much anticipate the resurgence of this topic at the December BOR meeting in Fairbanks. I will be in attendance at this meeting representing staff concerns.

I would like to urge our local governance groups to bring this topic up at your next meeting. This proposed amendment to this motion by Regent Fisher neglected the transparency expected by staff regarding our benefits. President Gamble has supported and approved revisions to the educational benefit as recently as November 2012. An excerpt from The Statewide Voice (Nov. 2012, Issue #72) reads:

“The tuition benefit is an important part of the overall compensation package for a UA employee. A benefit program like ours not only creates a sense of employee loyalty, but it directly impacts retention in a positive way, which far outweighs the cost. Many colleges and universities provide educational benefits to employees and almost half of all public institutions provide waivers for dependents. It keeps a university competitive with peer institutions and helps attract and retain quality staff and faculty. The tuition waiver program also keeps employees in closer touch with the classroom environment.”

As we anticipate this topic to be discussed at the next BOR meeting, staff are encouraged to communicate with their governance groups to share their feedback on this proposal and are encouraged to testify if possible.

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56 Comments

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56 responses to “Reduction of tuition benefit to be on December BOR Agenda

  1. Julie

    As echoed by many before me, the employee tuition waiver is one of the main reasons I came and stay at UAF. I left a job at a higher wage knowing that although my University paycheck was lower, it would be offset by a future advantage to my kids. Having squirreled away every one of his PFDs, my son was able to graduate from UAF in 4 years debt free, thanks to frugality and the tuition waiver. (Incidentally, the tuition waiver paid for about half of his total college expenses figuring in books, special fees, and housing.) I appreciate the waiver tremendously. I only hope that the Regents appreciate the UA staff and faculty as much.

  2. Meghan

    Unlike many who have written before me, I did not know about the tuition waiver when I took a position at UAF. I moved to Alaska to be with my husband, a graduate student at UAF, and was very excited to get a job at the University, where I could learn more about Fairbanks culture, be a part of a strong campus community, and be exposed to new opportunities in attending classes and free lectures. I was thrilled to learn about the tuition waiver and have taken twice as many classes with it as I would have without it. Becoming a student myself has enhanced my understanding of the students I assist on a daily basis, and has put me on a first name basis with many of them as well! The waiver has also helped my husband and I tremendously as we pay for his graduate school. Not only are we able pay less for his schooling, but he is able to do bigger and greater projects focusing grant money on his actual research while the tuition waiver helps fund his education. I can undoubtedly say that the waiver has helped us enrich our lives in Alaska and is a key benefit that puts this job above others I could take. Thank you for considering our comments.

  3. I just wanted to thank everyone who provided comments and testimony. It was clearly stated at the December BOR meeting that our education benefit will not be reduced (at this time.) It was great that so many people were able to provide so many great reasons why it should not be reduced in the future either. Great work.
    Thanks,
    ~Monique Musick, Staff Alliance Vice Chair

  4. Bobbie Farfalla-Ivanoff

    If I remember correctly, the reason that the reduced tuition waiver was brought to the fore originally was the thought that this reduced tuition waiver for employees might bring down the statewide tuition costs. Without seeing the accounting I am not convinced a reduction in tuition waivers would have any if even a little effect on lowering tuition costs to UAA students. I do know that if there is a reduction in tuition waivers for employees this would have a direct increase in tuition for my children who attend UAA. Based on this – the evidence reveals that a reduced tuition waiver for employees would indeed not lower tuition costs for UAA students. One of my sons recently graduated from UAA and the other 4 are currently enrolled as full time and part time students. I very much appreciate the benefits of having tuition waivers, for my children as well as for me.

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