A shortfall in the latest budget bill has raised some concerns about higher education accessibility in some University of Guam students.
As students file into their classes during this new semester, concerns about a potential increase in tuition have been raised.
With $27 million slated for UOG’s general fund appropriation in the latest version of Sen. Joe S. San Agustin’s fiscal year 2020 budget bill, the $6 million shortfall may entail a tuition increase of around 30 percent.
With around half of its students relying on federal financial aid, Evander De Guzman, a student committee member at the university, says that such an increase could limit access to higher education.
“If tuition is going to increase at such a large margin, I believe that enrollment and student retention are going to decrease over the years,” De Guzman said.
Other students, such as Anthony Reyes, expressed their concerns about how a potential increase would affect them, stressing the importance of obtaining a higher education.
“I see how my parents have struggled to raise four children and I want to be able to get a job so I don’t have to go through the struggles they went through,” Reyes said.
According to UOG President Dr. Thomas Krise, the shortfall would also place limits on the university’s capacity as a research institution. He added that the university’s budget request of $33.9 million is not an inflated request, but one that avoids an increase in tuition.
“We can do more, but the decline in allotments over the years and the decline in appropriations have imperiled the potential for more great resources to come in,” Krise said.
Krise also notes that many of the region’s public figures are UOG alumni and that the university is essential to solving many of the issues present in the Marianas.
In lieu of this issue, Sen. Amanda Shelton introduced Bill 197-35 earlier this week, which would enable UOG to achieve long term fiscal security through public-private partnerships.
“I think the University of Guam has shown a long track record that they’re able to do this and to handle these responsibilities. And as they grow, we need to continue to support their needs and make sure that we’re doing what’s best for the students and their entire community,” the senator said.