WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The Westfield State University Board of Trustees finance subcommittee voted to recommend no more than a $435 increase in fees per student for next fiscal year, which would help fill some of a projected $3.4 million budget deficit.
The committee unanimously approved the recommendation Thursday night after much discussion.
The motion allows Interim President Elizabeth Preston to increase the fee up to $435 if the university receives less money that expected from the state. While the group quickly agreed to the potential fee increase, they debated the specific language of the motion. The committee wanted it to reflect that if the state funding comes through higher than expected, the potential increase would decrease proportionately and rebates would be given to students.
The recommendation will be made to the full board for a vote later this month.
The committee was presented with a draft comparison of WSU’s tuition and fees to its sister institutions around the commonwealth. Of the nine colleges and universities included, WSU offered the lowest overall total at $17,880. The highest was the Massachusetts College of Art and Design at $23,874. However, items such as cable television and other room and board options may not be similar across the board. Bridgewater State University offered the lowest combined tuition and fees at $8,052, with WSU not far ahead at $8,733.
Trustee Steven Marcus asked how much cost factors into the decision for students when looking at the school.
“Do students look at the cost?” he asked.
“Students don’t – parents do,” said Committee Chairman John F. Flynn.
Preston said she receives emails regularly from parents asking about financial aid and comparing what other schools offer for aid and fees to WSU.
“It’s a tough call,” she said, noting it has been an ongoing internal discussion.
Preston said there are “fewer and fewer traditional students” and she wants to keep costs low. Preston did tout the school’s statistics.
“I’m extremely proud that we have the highest graduation rate, the highest retention rate, and the lowest cost,” said Preston.