After meeting with President Barack Obama’s administration and other student body presidents in Washington, senior occupational therapy major and Associated Student Government president Ashley Vogts discussed the doubling of Federal Stafford loan interest rates at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting. Vogts’ presentation was followed by the 6.5 percent tuition increase proposed by Emporia State’s tuition and budget committee.
“I don’t think students know about it,” Vogts said. “At this conference we just all kind of came to the consensus that we all want to take a stand. Maybe start doing some lobbying or writing to legislation and just saying as students we don’t think we can handle this double increase in student loans.”
Stafford loan interest rates will double July 1, raising them to around 6.8 percent, which will be an increased burden to the average undergrad who owes about $25,000 after graduation.
“Even with scholarships, college has become too expensive,” said Jake Snyder, freshman chemistry major. “If they keep increasing the cost of tuition and student loans, it won’t be long before kids won’t be able to afford to go to college, and the ones that do are going to spend their entire life paying off that debt.”
Kevin Johnson, faculty president, also discussed tuition increases for next year. Students can expect to pay about 6.5 percent more in tuition if the tuition and budget committee’s recommendation goes through. Before it can be approved, it must go through President Michael Shonrock and the Kansas Board of Regents.
“According to the information we were presented with at the meeting, it is a smaller dollar increase than the other regents universities will likely be recommending,” Johnson said. “We are still going to be about half the cost of KU and K-State and comparable to Pittsburg and Fort Hays.”
Half of the increase will go to paying utility bills, health plan costs and other mandatory expenses. The other half will go to a tuition assistance plan and a 1 percent pay raise for all ESU employees, depending on enrollment for next year.
“Nobody wants to pay more, but I don’t think the preliminary figures for enrollment next fall are much better than a year ago. Of course, we won’t know until the fall,” Johnson said. “I think based on that, I don’t think it is going to hurt enrollment and we are still one of the best buys in the state.”
The next Faculty Senate meeting on May 1 will be the last meeting of the term. Directly after the meeting, current and new members are invited to a reception at the Shonrock home.