Possible fee hike

Nick Lowrey

The Students’ Association passed a resolution supporting up to a 1.5 percent raise to the Salary Competitiveness Fee Nov. 21 that could raise student tuition up to another $50.

The vote came after months of discussion and debate, including an open forum held Nov. 15. The vote represents SA’s support of the fee raise and is not an actual raise. The fee can only be raised by the BOR and is, so far, dependent on the state legislature passing a salary policy for all state employees next year.

Though state employees, like faculty, have not been given a raise in three years, the fee is still being collected so faculty salaries can remain at its current level. Right now the fee is $32.60 per credit hour. According to SA Vice President Anthony Sutton, the fee raise could result in another $40 to $50 being added to tuition, or about $2.70 per credit hour.

The fee is intended to increase and maintain faculty salaries at a level more balanced with other states in the region. When the fee was created, South Dakota faculty salaries were around 16 percent below the regional average and 32 percent below the national average. The fee has contributed to faculty salaries climbing to within 7.6 percent of the regional average in 2010, which allows South Dakota to more easily compete for faculty in the job market.

Sutton feels the fee raise is a good idea because — whether or not the fee is actually raised — it will show students supporting faculty. Increasing the fee will also help SDSU with retention and hiring of new faculty members.

“My education is too important to me,” Sutton said. “I want professors and faculty that challenge me, and if the best way for that to happen is to add to my tuition, then I’m willing to do that.”