Southeast plans higher living costs for dorms

Saturday, February 23, 2002

Students would pay more to eat and sleep at Southeast Missouri State University in the next academic year under a fee plan that includes a new $40-a-year charge for students in residence halls for cable TV whether they have a television or not.

The Board of Regents will vote on the proposed fee hikes when it meets at 1:30 p.m. Monday in the University Center Ballroom.

Room charges would jump just over 3 percent, or about $100 a year in existing residence halls; meal charges would increase just over 1 percent, or about $18, university officials said.

School officials want the room-rate increase for the next eight years to pay for operating costs and planned upgrades to various residence halls including replacing roofs and windows on some dorms.

University officials said the proposed fee hikes have nothing to do with the school's effort to cope with state budget cuts because the state doesn't fund residence hall operations. Student charges pay those expenses, budgeted at $13.5 million for the 2003 fiscal year that begins July 1.

Students living in the university's new five-story Henderson Avenue residence hall would pay the highest room charges -- $4,290 -- for the new school year beginning in August.

Students living in the part of Dearmont residence hall that isn't air conditioned would pay the least -- $2,682.

Additional costs

Those charges don't include the potential new cable TV fee or charges for telephone, Internet service and meals that would add approximately $1,900 to the bill. When that is added in, students would be paying anywhere from about $4,600 to $6,200 a year to live on campus next school year.

"College is just expensive," said Lisa Harris, a 21-year-old junior from Modesto, Ill., who lives in a dorm room on the eighth floor of Towers West. The room she shares with another student is crowded with a bunk bed, desk and computer, television set and futon. They share a bathroom with two other students in an adjoining room.

Unlike many upperclassmen, Harris plans to live on campus her senior year. She would like to live in the new residence hall, which is currently under construction, because it has larger rooms.

Harris has a scholarship that pays for part of her room and board. She currently has to pay for $800 of her room and board charges in Towers West.

If she rents a room in the new residence hall, the cost to her and her parents would be $1,200.

She's hoping to room with a friend, but that potential roommate doesn't have a scholarship to defray any of the charges.

Saving money

But Jessica Moe, a 19-year-old freshman from St. Charles, Mo., said she will probably remain in Myers Hall to save money. The room charge alone in Myers Hall would be $3,078 next school year under the regents' plan.

Moe works in a St. Louis area supermarket during holidays and over the summer to pay for her college education.

"I have to pay for half of my college education," she said. "The other half my dad pays."

Moe said she chose to enroll at Southeast because it was less expensive than other schools.

Moe said she and other students get tired of ever-increasing charges. Students have to pay for cable TV and the in-room Internet connection even if they don't watch the television programs or have computers, she said.

Even with increased fees, Moe expects students will stick around.

"I know a lot of people don't like it, but it is still the cheapest school around," she said.

Besides the regular fees, the regents will consider charging a cable television fee of $20 a semester or $40 a year per residence-hall student.

University officials said the fee is needed to cover increased cable charges that the school must pay to the cable provider, Charter Communications. The cost of cable to all the campus dorms has jumped from $8,000 a year to $83,200 a year, officials said.

The new fee will pay the increase cable cost and provide a small reserve to handle future rate hikes by the cable provider, school officials said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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