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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuition Waiver to be Discussed at December Regents' Meeting

At the November 6 Board of Regents' meeting, during discussion on FY15 Tuition Rates, Regent Fisher proposed an amendment to keep in-state tuition at the FY14 rate and to amend BOR Policy 04.06.010 to reduce the employee education benefit - the tuition waiver - by 50%. The goal was to offset the loss of in-state tuition with money obtained from the tuition waiver.

The amendment to change Regents' policy was ruled out of order because changes to policy must be in writing in advance. The amendment to change in-state tuition to the FY14 rate did not pass. However, the Regents did add a discussion about the the tuition waiver to their December meeting, which will take place in Fairbanks on Thursday and Friday, Dec 12 & 13. 

Staff Council is working on a resolution in support of the tuition waiver. This is a valuable benefit that helps UA recruitment and retention, drive staff development, and bring in new students.

I encourage UAF staff to attend the December BOR meeting, held in Butrovich Room 109, to give support for the waiver. Public comment is normally at 9:00 AM, but the agenda for the BOR meeting is not yet set. We'll be working to get the word out so that we can fill the room with staff and speak to the value of this benefit.

Please leave questions or comments regarding the tuition waiver! I'd also like to welcome staff to attend our November and December Staff Council meetings or contact your Unit representative(s). More info on Staff Council, including meeting dates & times: http://www.uaf.edu/uafgov/staff-council/


BOR Policy and Regulation on 04.06.010 Employee Education Benefit: http://www.alaska.edu/bor/policy/04-06.pdf

21 comments:

Holly M. Dean said...

As staff, I've taken advantage of the tuition waiver over the years and find it to be a valuable benefit of working here. Having grown up in Fairbanks with parents who worked for UAF (now retired), I took advantage of this as an undergraduate student. This not only helped in my decision to go to school at UAF, but it also made it possible for me to get my education without being overwhelmed by debt. I hold this in high regard when making decisions about my future- in making my career here at UAF and in raising a family here. I would be deeply disappointed if this benefit were to go away or be drastically reduced.

Anonymous said...

Losing our tuition benefit will only serve to make the university less appealing to potential employees both inside and outside Alaska. Personally, my decision to relocate to Fairbanks was in large part due to the tuition waiver so my two children would not be saddled with enormous debt. Seriously - this makes us competitive as an employer, and honestly, how much are we really going to save?

Edie Barbour said...

This is one the most visible perks I get as a UAF employee. It's very important to me, to the point that I almost quit a job because I couldn't take advantage of the tuition waiver. This differentiates UAF from any other employer in AK. If we lose the tuition waiver, we are going to lose employees and find it harder to attract new employees.

Anonymous said...

Wow; really horrible comment posting system. I'm not going to waste my time trying this again!

Anonymous said...

Why does the waiver need to be affected again??? Why did they allow an increase for 8 credits to be waived when now they want to drop it to 4 per semester, one year later??? This is a slap in the face to employees.

Terra said...

The Tuition Waiver Benefit is one of our strongest draws for highly qualified personnel, since our starting salaries are often lower than private sector. It is also a great motivator for existing personnel to stay with the University; looking forward to their children growing-up and being able to take advantage of this benefit. Cutting the benefit in half will certainly be a disincentive.

Edward said...

I have to think there is a middle ground on tuition waivers. Does a staff member occupying an otherwise empty chair cost the University anything? May the U counts that as lost revenue, but I wouldn't assume that the enrollee would be there if the course weren't free. I can understand the concern if the presence of staff was taking the last spot, displacing a revenue-generating student, or if the staffer put the enrollment of the course over the threshold of cancellation. Perhaps a two-tier system is possible, to handle those cases where the University is actually incurring a cost.

Secondly, I will just say that the tuition waiver benefit is unusually generous at UAF, but my family and I would very likely have left Fairbanks after a couple of years had it not been for the opportunities that the tuition waiver afforded us.

Anonymous said...

As a staff member, I am directed to list 3 professional development goals every year, as part of the employee evaluation process. If the tuition waiver were reduced to 50%, I will not likely be able to afford to take any UAF classes. Thus, any continuing education I might seek out of state would end up costing UAF more, than if I were to be able to stay in town and attend classes on campus.

While a 50% tuition waiver might sound like a viable cost savings to the University, I don't personally believe there is any actual cost to allowing staff to take advantage of attending classes. Besides,it makes for a more well-rounded staff. And,it certainly sends a message to other traditional students in these classes about how the Administration at the University values higher education, and it's precious staff.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I've missed this information in your or others' postings, but what is the breakdown, in dollars, of how much money the University "loses" each year to tuition waivers? This would be a good point of reference for any further discussion of future tuition waiver reduction/elimination.

Bradley Krick said...

Hi everyone, and thank you for commenting! I'm going to try to answer three of the questions that I've seen so far in the comments.

1) "Why did they allow an increase for 8 credits to be waived when now they want to drop it to 4 per semester, one year later?" The stated change to Policy is perhaps unclear, but I believe the Regent intended that employees, spouses, or dependents using the tuition waiver would pay 50% of the tuition cost.

2) "Does a staff member occupying an otherwise empty chair cost the University anything?" From 2011 to 2012, UA reviewed the tuition benefit. My understanding is that they found that staff were not bumping students out of classes, but I don't have that data immediately available. I will see if Staff Council can obtain it before the Dec BOR meeting.

3) "Perhaps I've missed this information in your or others' postings, but what is the breakdown, in dollars, of how much money the University "loses" each year to tuition waivers?"

In FY12, the tuition benefit was valued at $5.2 million. Source: http://www.alaska.edu/voice/2012/nov-2012/system-news/health-care/tuition-benefit-update/

We just received numbers for FY13. The benefit was valued at: $4.8 million. The breakdown of usage:

Employees $1,742,500
Spouse/Dependents for Regular Employees $2,920,200
Spouse/Dependents for Adjunct Employees $147,400

Anonymous said...

As a new staff member, I am very much looking forward to taking classes next semester. I work on a field I am interested in and the classes I would take would likely benefit my work and therefore, my department.
If the waiver is cut, I probably wouldn't take classes since the tuition would be an additional financial problem I really don't need.

UAF Staff Council Office said...

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Anonymous said...

This is just another example of greed. One of the main benefits of working at the U is the tuition waiver. If it's gone the careers have to stack up against competitive salaries in the private sector on their own merit, and they just don't on pay alone. Add in the tuition benefit and all of a sudden it's a tough call. It's simply a bad idea put forward by bad leadership.

Anonymous said...

I would view any cost savings that the University would enjoy (as a result of the tuition waiver being cut to 50%) as an example of "creative accounting". In other words, I don't buy the argument that there is truly a cost associated with a staff member attending classes. If staff were displacing revenue-generating students, that idea would hold water. In reality, I am doubtful that rarely, if ever, happens.

Additionally, if the Regents believe that staff will still take advantage of classes, even though that former benefit will cost them 50% more, I believe they are banking on phantom revenue.

Anonymous said...

Crunching numbers to make cuts in all areas in time of desperation really does matter. Greed or not, the information being portrayed is there is not enough money to pay salaries and benefits. I'm a recipient and do benefit from the tuition waiver. Tuition costs are enormous, but to make severed cuts won't make employees happy. As a previous business owner I would not take the benefit of tuition waiver away for full-time employees, just scale back the benefits for spouses, dependents and adjuncts. Create a scale of allowable credits per family members per semester. Even though this is an idea we all need to tell our input.

Anonymous said...

Knowing that in 2014 we'll have to start paying taxes on the value of our health insurance, which is going to be costly from everything I've read, having the tuition waiver cut will make it impossible for my husband or I to attend classes. My son came back to Alaska to attend UAF because of my waiver, I'm assuming he would move back outside and go to school where it's warmer. UAF already pays staff considerably below market, without the tuition waiver I don't see the benefit to working here.

Catherine Williams said...

Catherine Williams said...

It would be a crying shame to have yet another benefit take a hit. Although I do not use the tuition waiver on a regular basis - it is nice to have that one solid perk. I understand why our health benefits took a hit - this is one bennie the U can prevent from reducing/taking away from it's employees.
If a person fails a class then they should pay it back in full. This I agree whole-heartedly but to reduce the waiver up front by any amount should not happen.

Anonymous said...

This is the only valuable perk I receive as a UAF employee and cutting it by 50% would be make it harder for my children in the future. I have worked here for over 15 years and this is one of the main reasons I plan on retiring here so my children can benefit from the tuition waivers. I really do hope the Board of Regents does not move forward with this decision.

Kayla Dunham said...

I have been working for UAF the past four years, as a high school student. Now, I am a college student, still working very hard for UAF. UAF does offer good benefits that give good incentives to motivate people to work hard and diligently. As I learned in my current Business class, taking away benefits that many employees and their children rely on will definitely not boost productivity and employees will lose that spark to work hard because of losing something that is valuable to their family. My mom just started working at UAF, leaving her previous job that paid much better, but the tuition waiver enticed her to take the job, thinking in terms of her three children that are struggling to put themselves through college. My mind set at this point is that I couldn't wait until she has been working here long enough for me to be able to use the tuition waiver, but hearing it may all change is absolutely disheartening. Currently I have to work as much as I can to pay for school, but I was looking forward to not having to work as much and focus on what truly is the most important aspect of my life right now, getting as good of an education as possible, and being able to spend less time working and more time studying was going to be the best thing about the tuition waiver. Doesn't UA want to graduate competent students from there school? A lot of your students are the children of your employees. Although I appreciate the opportunities UA has given me as both a high school and college student in terms of employment, it would benefit my education if I did not have to sacrifice study time for 20 hours a week for work. I was highly involved in many extracurricular clubs and activities throughout high school such as student government and sports but with the balance of school and work I can no longer fit extracurricular activities in that UA offers, but hoping the waiver benefit will not change in the coming semesters I would love to be an asset to my UA in those arenas instead of limiting myself only to receive my education though classes. It is a disservice to cut back on the waiver, for the students of parents that work at UA, and for the University, I ask that the University help their students to be the best of the best, and after we graduate with little debt let us boast about how good of an education we received at UA!!!

Kayla Dunham said...

I have been working for UAF the past four years, as a high school student. Now, I am a college student, still working very hard for UAF. UAF does offer good benefits that give good incentives to motivate people to work hard and diligently. As I learned in my current Business class, taking away benefits that many employees and their children rely on will definitely not boost productivity and employees will lose that spark to work hard because of losing something that is valuable to their family. My mom just started working at UAF, leaving her previous job that paid much better, but the tuition waiver enticed her to take the job, thinking in terms of her three children that are struggling to put themselves through college. My mind set at this point is that I couldn't wait until she has been working here long enough for me to be able to use the tuition waiver, but hearing it may all change is absolutely disheartening. Currently I have to work as much as I can to pay for school, but I was looking forward to not having to work as much and focus on what truly is the most important aspect of my life right now, getting as good of an education as possible, and being able to spend less time working and more time studying was going to be the best thing about the tuition waiver. Doesn't UA want to graduate competent students from there school? A lot of your students are the children of your employees. Although I appreciate the opportunities UA has given me as both a high school and college student in terms of employment, it would benefit my education if I did not have to sacrifice study time for 20 hours a week for work. I was highly involved in many extracurricular clubs and activities throughout high school such as student government and sports but with the balance of school and work I can no longer fit extracurricular activities in that UA offers, but hoping the waiver benefit will not change in the coming semesters I would love to be an asset to my UA in those arenas instead of limiting myself only to receive my education though classes. It is a disservice to cut back on the waiver, for the students of parents that work at UA, and for the University, I ask that the University help their students to be the best of the best, and after we graduate with little debt let us boast about how good of an education we received at UA!!!