Board of Regents approves housing and dining rate increase

JESSICA ZHOU, Evergreen assistant news editor

The WSU Board of Regents approved a proposal by WSU Housing and Dining to increase room and board rates starting fall 2017 at a meeting Friday at WSU Tri-Cities.

For the 2016-2017 school year, a residence hall double room with a level two dining plan cost $10,777. The new rate in 2017-2018 will be $11,053. Residence hall rates would increase by no more than 2.6, percent, or $276, and campus apartment rates by no more than 2.5 percent of the total weighted average for room and board housing.

These room and board rate increases were developed based on student input, economic projections and system demands, according to the board’s meeting materials.

The proposal anticipated expense increases, including a 15.1 percent increase for temporary and student employees due to the state’s minimum wage increase, two percent cost of living increase for employees from legislature approval, two percent food costs increase and two percent utility costs increase.

The proposed increases received unanimous support from the Housing and Dining Advisory Board, which met throughout the fall semester to discuss anticipated operational changes.

The advisory board consists of eight student representatives from the Resident Hall Association, ASWSU and GPSA, and seven administrative representatives from the Budget Office, Finance & Administration and Student Affairs.

Additionally, the Board of Regents approved a proposal by the WSU College of Education to discontinue the Master of Education (English Language Learners) degree and a proposal by the WSU division of the state attorney general’s office to establish a policy on delegation of authority by “amending or clarifying certain existing authorities delegated to the president or his designee.”

The Board of Regents also heard the 2016 fiscal year-end financial report provided by WSU Associate Vice President of Finance Matthew Skinner.

The financial report revealed a $429 million increase in the university’s outstanding debt since the fiscal year 2007. There was also a $35 million decrease in WSU’s net financial position during the 2016 fiscal year, according to the report.

To address a decline in cash and investments, WSU will reinstitute a formal university budget development process, create a comprehensive funding plan for each new building and develop financial analysis to accompany all proposals. For the first time in nearly a decade, WSU completed the first set of budget reviews, providing a clearer view of the budget than before, Skinner said in a news release.

“The university will continue to focus on building adequate reserve levels,” Skinner said in the release.

Despite a five percent decrease in resident undergraduate tuition, tuition revenue maintained due to an increasing number of students, Skinner said in the release. The state also allocated more money for operations and capital facilities and WSU research remained stable in light of increased competition for federal awards, he said.