UOG students speak out against tuition hike

HEARING: University of Guam student Nolan Flores speaks shares testimony during a public hearing on the proposed tuition increase held Oct. 11 at the School of Business and Public Administration. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

A 30% increase in tuition at the University of Guam is without a doubt excessive. 

UOG's administration had proposed three 10% tuition hikes: one each in spring and fall of 2020, and one in the spring of 2021. On Wednesday afternoon, it approved the same 30% hike, though it will be stretched out over more semesters.

For nonresident students, the proposed rates will be 200% of resident tuition rates, while candidates who meet the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education requirements will pay 150% of the resident rate, the university has said. 

Only a few elected officials appeared to support students who said that – even if they stayed right here at home – the tuition hikes would push a UOG education out of their reach.

So on Wednesday, the students walked out and protested. Some of their protest signs said: “Higher tuition=Higher dropout” and “Rise above tuition hikes.”

Nolan Flores, a merit scholar and sophomore at UOG, said, “It’s a very dramatic tuition increase that will have harmful effects on our university. Enrollment is likely to drop. Many students simply can’t afford to pay a 30% increase in what they already pay.”

The university says GovGuam gives it less than it asks for and needs.

This is not unique to UOG. 

The Guam Department of Education often doesn't receive all the funds it needs and is authorized under the budget law, yet the schools try to make do.

The local university needs to get realistic about what the students and their families can afford. UOG needs to strike a careful balance between further burdening students and trimming spending on the administrative side.

Just this February, the university’s regents adopted a new salary scale for administrators. 

It's time to look at UOG's staffing – see what administrative jobs are needed and which aren’t. The university also needs to seriously look at cutting administrative officials' and staffers' pay to reduce the tuition increase it's passing on to students.

Administrators can't shift most of UOG’s cash squeeze onto students and their families. They also need to cut costs: What positions can be cut? What positions can take pay cuts? What expenses can UOG give up?

After the walkout Wednesday, UOG issued a statement that the proposed increase will be stretched out over a longer period: The first tuition increase will be up to 5% in August 2020, with up to 5% increases in each of the following five semesters or until reaching 30%.

A 30% increase in just a handful of semesters is still steep.

Kudos to the students for standing up to the tuition increase. Maybe taxpayers can borrow a page or two from UOG students and start to be more vocal about tax increases.

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