June 22, 2003 – Saturday's meeting of the University of the Virgin Islands board of trustees was mostly about money specifically, about the need for money to maintain operations under current circumstances.
The board, meeting on St. Croix, unanimously approved increases in tuition, room, board and other fees. And it approved a contingency plan to meet the university's financial obligations if the last third of its budget as approved by the V.I. government for this fiscal year does not materialize.
Effective this fall, room rates will increase by 10 percent and pre-paid meal plans will rise by 20 percent on both campuses.
Effective with the Spring 2004 semester on both campuses, tuition will increase by 10 percent and various fees will be raised by 50 percent to 100 percent.
Vincent Samuel, UVI acting vice president for administration and finance, said the university had not raised tuition rates in four years. Some fees which are being increased have remained steady for the last 10 years. Samuel also noted that the tuition and fees that students pay cover only a small portion of the actual cost of their education.
Next spring, according to a UVI release:
– Tuition for full-time undergraduate V.I. residents will rise to $3,000 per year from the current $2,730.
– Tuition for full-time undergraduate non-residents will rise to $9,000 per year from the present $8,190.
– Tuition for part-time undergraduate V.I. residents will go to $100 per credit from $91.
– Tuition for part-time undergraduate non-residents will go to $300 per credit from $273.
– The registration fee will increase to $30 from $20.
– The technology fee will increase to $50 from $25.
– The transcript fee will increase to $10 from $5.
As for the shortfall in government allocations, the release stated that UVI's budget appropriation from the government for Fiscal Year 2003, which ends on Sept. 30, stands at about $27.6 million. To date, a week away from the end of the third quarter, $18.1 million has been received.
The university has yet to receive $4.5 million that should have been allocated by now, according to the release.
The contingency plan that the board adopted is to be implemented "in the event that the university does not receive the remainder of its anticipated government allotment," the release stated. The plan calls for the university to secure a short-term bank loan of $1.5 million, to request $1 million from the Foundation for the University of the Virgin Islands, and to request $500,000 from the Foundation for the Reichhold Center for the Arts.
At the last board meeting, in February, the finance committee chair, Roy Jackson, reported that the government appropriation to the university for Fiscal Year 2003 was about $29 million and that allocations for last October, November and December had been received, but allotments for January and February, totaling $4.7 million, were outstanding.
The governor's across-the-board reduction in allotments earlier this year to address revenue shortfalls apparently accounts for the drop in the figure cited on Saturday as the amount budgeted for FY 2003.
Trustee Alexander A. Moorhead, a member of the board's finance committee, said on Saturday that escalating costs and the need for UVI to achieve sustainability and not the territory's financial crisis — made the tuition and fee increases necessary.
The finance committee's recommendation to increase student costs "had nothing to do with the fiscal crisis before us," Moorhead said.
Samuel told the board that "even with the proposed rate increases, the university is still a hard bargain to beat."
UVI President LaVerne Ragster said the increases come at a time when UVI is enhancing the quality of its programs and services.
On the St. Thomas campus, a new vendor will provide meals and a new dining facility is nearing completion. Upgraded St. Thomas campus residence halls, cable-ready St. Croix campus residence halls and the implementation of online registration were other improvements cited.
The government's fiscal crisis notwithstanding, the board also approved a budget request of $35.6 million for Fiscal Year 2004.
In internal business, the trustees unanimously approved the re-nominations of Auguste E. Rimpel Jr. as chair and of Moorhead as vice chair. And trustees Jackson and Noreen Michael were appointed to serve on the Research and Technology Park Board.
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