The end of an era?

The details of a plan to phase out major tuition changes planned by PSU administration were unveiled yesterday by ASPSU Amara Marino at the first fall meeting of the student senate.

In the past, full-time undergrad students paid a flat rate for tuition whether taking 12 credits or 18 (what is commonly called the tuition plateau).That will all change next fall, when PSU will move to a per-credit charge, tentatively $88 per credit hour, a two dollar decrease.

Senator Matt Wallace responded to the price cut with sarcasm.

“[They’re saving us] two bucks? That’s awesome,” he said, causing the packed meeting room to erupt in laughter.

Marino presented a plan which her and ASPSU Vice President Joe Johnson had brokered with administrators over the summer. While the university initially planned to implement the per-credit charge system this Winter term; the new deal would mean phasing out the tuition plateau rather than an immediate removal.

Marino presented a “memorandum of understanding” established between ASPSU and university administration. Marino touted the deal as a step toward shared governance, an issue she and Johnson ran on in the Spring election.The agreement laid out the plans for phasing out the tuition plateau over the winter, spring and summer terms of this year before fully eliminating it in fall of 2004.

For the winter, spring and summer terms of this year the tuition plateau will shrink to 12 to 15 credit hours for undergraduate students and 9 to 12 credit hours for graduate students. By the fall of 2004 all students will pay on a per-credit basis.

Marino stated her hesitancy about the agreement, noting that it states ASPSU “endorses” the changes in tuition. Instead of that language, Marino will try to insert a statement of understanding, ultimately “agreeing to disagree” with the administration.

In addition, the final clause would require ASPSU officials to be available to testify at hearings of the State Board of Higher Education, which has to approve any tuition changes at state universities, next week to ensure the board’s approval of the plan, and may, in Marino’s estimation, hamper student government’s ability to voice concerns about the new tuition scheme after the fact.

With those concerns in mind, Marino said the university has given her government few options; eluding to the possibility that without the deal, the plateau could be eliminated next week.

The senate showed its support for her concerns and also for the agreement.Senator Christy Harper said, ” I would accept this [agreement], but I think it’s unfortunate that the plateau is going away.”

Joe Haber, another senator, pointed out that this would make the elimination of the tuition plateau a smoother transition for students.

Marino and Johnson will meet again with administrators today to come to an agreement. Their decision will then be presented to the state board next week for final approval.

“I don’t think we’re going to have a problem getting it through the board,” Marino said.

Marino also stated that there would be no consequences for PSU and its students if the tuition plateau were phased out in lieu of being completely eliminated by winter term.