Gap widens between UW costs, Hathaway aid

2012-03-31T23:45:00Z 2013-03-21T11:56:12Z Gap widens between UW costs, Hathaway aidBy JEREMY PELZER Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
March 31, 2012 11:45 pm  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — When the University of Wyoming hikes in-state tuition and fees starting next year, the thousands of Hathaway Scholarship recipients attending there shouldn’t count on any more help from the program.

This is the second time UW has increased the cost of attending the university since the much-lauded scholarship program was set up by the Wyoming Legislature in 2007.

But Hathaway scholarship grant levels, which were once able to cover most, if not all, students’ tuition, haven’t changed. Qualifying Wyoming high school graduates still receive scholarships of up to $1,600 per year to attend UW or one of the state’s community colleges.

With the latest tuition increase, approved by the UW Board of Trustees on March 23, tuition and fees for in-state UW students would increase 2 percent in each of the next two years, from $4,125.22 this year to $4,277.88 in 2013 and to $4,404.38 in 2014.

Non-resident students will see 4.5 percent jumps in each of the next two years.

The $3.5 million raised from the tuition increase will go toward library improvements and purchasing academic equipment, UW spokesman Chad Baldwin said. The additional student fee money will be used for health programs, recycling, and will help pay for a $27 million renovation of the Half Acre Gym on campus.

Baldwin said none of the money will go to salary increases for faculty and staff — which UW officials unsuccessfully sought from lawmakers during this year’s budget session.

When the Hathaway Scholarship was established in 2007, the highest grant levels covered the cost of tuition for in-state students. But that changed when trustees approved 5 percent increases in 2009 and in 2010.

As of fall semester 2011, 3,032 UW students were receiving Hathaway scholarship aid, according to preliminary numbers released by Baldwin.

University administrators emphasized that even with the increases, UW still has the lowest tuition and fee rates among the nation’s 150 public doctoral institutions.

And it would be up to the Legislature to decide if there would be any change in Hathaway scholarship grant levels.

State Senate Education Committee Chairman Hank Coe, R-Cody, said when lawmakers created the Hathaway program in 2007, they didn’t think about the potential for tuition increases.

Coe said, if needed, lawmakers have the option to kick in more money and adjust the grant levels. But he said it’s too early to tell whether that will be on the agenda for next year’s general session.

Overall, there doesn’t appear to be much grumbling from UW students about the hikes.

When the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming polled students and campus groups on the increases, they found only sporadic opposition, said ASUW Vice President Ty McNamee, a senior from Shoshoni.

“Once students were explained why there needed to be increases, I think that it was pretty positive,” he said.

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