At the Jan. 30 University of Saskathewan Students’ Council meeting, councillors unanimously voted in favour of increasing student fees for the 2014–15 school year.
The fees that were agreed upon were the student health and dental insurance plan, student infrastructure fee, the U of S Students’ Union fee and the universal bus pass — known as the U-Pass. The cost of the health and dental insurance plan, provided by Student Care, will remain the same.
The increases follow the same rate as in previous years, with the U-Pass and USSU infrastructure fees subject to the consumer price index — the changes in price that consumers experience over a given period of time. The USSU fee rises by five per cent annually, of which the university receives one per cent.
Callan Davey, central Canada program manager for Student Care, was in attendance at the meeting to discuss the plan that students would receive. The health and dental plan is one of the largest services offered by the USSU and covers the cost of medically incurred expenses that don’t fall under provincial health care. The plan consists of health, vision, dental and travel insurance.
The dental fee was increased by 10 per cent for 2013–14 to cover an expected growth in dental claims of about 25 per cent due to Campus Dentists opening in Lower Place Riel that year. The increase has shown to adequately cover the costs so that the 2014–15 health and dental plan fee will remain stable at $247.69.
Both the student infrastructure fee and U-Pass increased by 2.3 per cent for the 2014-15 academic year. The student infrastructure fee has provided funds for renovations of Place Riel and Louis’ and will be put toward replacing a business elevator in Lower Place Riel. The 2014–15 student infrastructure fee has been set at $115.63. The U-Pass price has been negotiated with Saskatoon Transit and will likely continue to follow consumer price index at $76.33 per term.
Of the four fees decided at the meeting, the lowest price will be paid for the USSU fee at $75.30.
This fee covers administration costs, wages for the USSU and the union’s utility bills. USSU Vice-President Operations and Finance Jenna Moellenbeck said that the university will be charging the union an additional $37,527 for utilities this year.
Even with this large additional cost, Moellenbeck said that in the next few years the USSU fee will continue its usual increase of about five per cent.
She said the USSU never wants to force huge increases and will insure that fees continue to be raised in modest amounts despite the university’s added costs and debts. Moellenbeck said the union is careful not to put a financial burden on students.
“The USSU is always hesitant and very cautious raising fees,” Moellenbeck said. “Students work hard for their money.”