Havre Daily News
Montana State University-Northern will lower its room and board rates up to 30 percent next year.
Last week university administrators approved a $400-per-semester waiver for all first-year students and an $800-per-semester waiver for sophomores, juniors and seniors.
The waivers were announced at a town hall meeting called by the Associated Students of Montana State University-Northern Senate to discuss six local and statewide issues affecting Northern students, including an 8.5 percent tuition increase.
"I think that would have such an impact on this campus and student activities," said director of campus housing Chancey Ringer, who told the student senate about the waivers. "The long-term effect would be drawing more students onto this campus."
Ringer said adding students to the dormitories would help recover the costs of lowered rates. He said he has no doubt the university will see the increase in students on campus that it expects.
Ringer said Northern now has 125 students in its dormitories and hopes to have 250 next year and 300 the following year. Only 15 students among the 125 living on campus this year lived on campus last year.
Director of auxiliary services Jason Degele said Northern will go from having relatively expensive living costs to having among the lowest costs in the state.
"With everything else going up, we're going to bring something down for you," Degele said.
First-year students will pay $4,240 for room and board for the year next year, and students at the sophomore level or above will pay between $3,440 and $3,840 depending on the type of room they choose.
The student government was also pleased to learn that Morgan Hall will be wired for cable TV and the Internet this week, something Senate President Kelly Paul said would go a long way to attracting students to living on campus.
Also discussed at Monday's meeting was tuition, which will go up.
University Chancellor Alex Capdeville said Northern is looking at an 8.5 percent increase, though hoping for a bit more aid from the MSU system in order to lower the increase to about 6 percent, the amount MSU-Billings is likely to require.
Capdeville said Northern did secure $800,000 from the MSU system to offset a budget shortfall of $760,000 caused by declining enrollment.
First- and second-year tuition at Northern is $1,907 per semester for in-state students, $2,637 for students from Canada and Western states with reciprocal agreements with Northern, and $6,413 for nonresidents. The rates for third- and fourth-year students are $2,259, $3,164, and $6,547.
Members of the audience also asked questions about the administration's decision to phase out seven academic programs. Students already enrolled in the programs will be allowed to finish, but new students will not be accepted into the programs.
Those are: master's in general science; bachelor's in communications, major and minor; bachelor's in water quality technology; bachelor's in civil engineering technology; bachelor's in business education, major and minor; auto body minor within auto tech; and secondary education minor in computer information systems.
One woman asked whether the decision would affect enrollment.
Capdeville said the programs were chosen because they did not have a sustainable enrollment, generally fewer than five students annually.
The student senate expressed concern about the possible elimination of the student activities coordinator position, held by Denise Brewer.
Paul wanted to know how her duties will be handled.
Capdeville said he didn't know and would ask Vice Chancellor Chuck Jensen.
Jackie Salveson, director of human resources at Northern, said today the university is considering reducing the number of hours for Brewer's position, but not eliminating the position. A reduction of hours would take effect July 1.
The student government also learned about a building project slated to begin in a year - a walkway that would tie together the campus' main academic buildings and the possible elimination of some parking on campus.
Capdeville said the walkway would add beauty to the campus, but its main purpose is to allow wheelchair access to the buildings.
He said a new heating system for Pershing Hall is another project he hopes will be funded this year by the state Legislature.