Student Senate Calls for Fee Increase to Provide Financial Aid Assistance
In today’s harsh economic climate, it’s not often students on a college campus will decide to request an increase in their fees. But that has happened at Guilford College. The college’s Community Senate has proposed the first activity fee increase in eight years in order to support student financial aid assistance and programming. The proposal comes at a time when the College is making budget decisions in response to a $2.5 million cut in state-funded financial aid for North Carolina students. It’s in addition to a proposed 3 percent increase in tuition the trustees have tentatively approved for the 2012-13 budget.
The measure will go before the Board of Trustees at the June meeting. The board will be asked to approve the student senate’s recommended $50 increase for 2012-13, or $25 per semester per student. Fees for traditional-aged students would rise from $330 to $380—a 15% increase if implemented. Students originally proposed a $100 increase to the College’s Budget Committee that may now be spread over the next two years. The last increase was in 2004-05.
“Students are having an increasingly difficult time paying for college, at Guilford and across the country,” said YAHYA ALAZRAK ’12, president of Community Senate, the governing body for traditional-aged students. “As student leaders on Guilford’s campus, Community Senate decided to take action to help students who need some additional financial aid.
“In some cases, this will make a difference between a student continuing at Guilford or not. Senate will help allocate funds from the increased activity fee to specific scholars programs in order to preserve the diversity of students who make the Guilford such a unique and special learning environment.”
Students have proposed that financial assistance be directed to students participating in some of Guilford’s academic and co-curricular programs that contribute to the diversity of ideas and experiences at the College. Funds estimated at $35,000 per year could benefit Principled Problem Solving, Quaker Leadership Scholars Program, Multicultural Leadership Scholars Program and Bonner Scholars Program.
“This is another great example of our students making a sacrifice and helping each other,” said President KENT CHABOTAR. “In the past two years students decided to use their fees to fund the expansion of wireless internet access on campus and renovations to the Community Center.” Students will participate in setting criteria for awarding the funds, which will be distributed through the Financial Aid Office. The Diversity Action Committee has a similar process in place.
Additional funds from the increased activity fees would support a discretionary fund for Senate’s Student Budget Committee, a student-run arts and lecture series, and various clubs and organizations. A campus-based performing arts program was discontinued in 2002 due to budget cuts.
“This is the money students see most clearly, the money they have the most voice in, the money that gives them the greatest sense of ownership in Guilford, especially with these initiatives,” Alazrak said. “This is the money that will increase the value of Guilford for students, making them more likely to come here and stay here.”
The College’s response to the state cuts in financial aid for North Carolina students includes a fundraising initiative, the North Carolina Student Financial Assistance Fund, that is seeking $500,000 per year the next two years to offset some of the losses in state funds for the neediest students. In addition, the College is prepared to reallocate funds from existing operating budgets to minimize the impact of the state cuts on Guilford students.