UH nursing, dental hygiene student fees could double next year

UH nursing, dental hygiene student fees could double next year
Published: Jan. 12, 2015 at 10:16 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2015 at 11:19 PM HST
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MANOA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii nursing and dental hygiene students could see their professional fees double next school year, adding $2,000 to their annual education costs in some cases.

If the UH Board of Regents approves a proposal by the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, UH nursing students will have their professional fees go up next fall from $1,000 to $2,000 per semester, on top of tuition that's been increasing for years.

"It's a little bit shocking because it's doubling the amount so it's big for all of us," said Sammy Kaiser, a first-year nursing student in the three-year program with nearly 300 students.

Jinny Agpaoa, another first-year UH nursing student, said, "I know it's unfair for a lot of the students who are full-time parents, full-time students and full-time workers, so it will be a lot on their plate, in addition to studying."

Dental hygiene students will see their professional fees go from $500 to $1,000 per semester starting next school year, if the UH Regents approve the hike.

"And then we have tuition which is constantly rising. So we are just like, 'Where are we supposed to get this money? A lot of us are in debt,'" said Jessica Lozano, a second-year dental hygiene student who is the president of her class.There are about 60 dental hygiene students at UH Manoa.

She said in addition to tuition, fees and books, dental hygiene students also pay for their own protective equipment such as masks and gloves, as well as uniforms.

UH's School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene said dental hygiene student fees have not gone up since they were created 16 years ago in 1999 and nursing student professional fees haven't increased for eight years.

"We've tried to hold off on increasing the fees as long as we can, but it's just something that we have to do to make sure that we're continuing to give the best education possible," said Dan Meisenzahl, a UH spokesman. "We knew that the cost of tuition was rising, we knew that the recession had hit and affected a lot of people and so we tried to keep these fees down as long as we possibly could."

The school has expanded its faculty and curriculum, adding eight new professors in recent years, which Meisenzahl said are needed to keep up with requirements.

"It's the student to faculty ratio and so that's a one-to-five, one-to-six ratio that you have to maintain because of accreditation reasonings, and licensing and things of that nature," Meisenzahl said.

The increased fees would help attack what students have been told is a $1.6 million operating shortfall at the nursing and dental hygiene school.

"It's like, how did you accumulate such a big debt? And why are you only now reacting to it and hitting all of us with the hike in fees?" asked Lozano, who said student leaders were briefed about the fee hikes last semester.

Lozano also questioned why the school isn't looking at phasing in the fees gradually over several years, "Which could have been easier for us to handle instead of the 100-percent increase. It's a shame that it came so unexpectedly."

Even with the proposed fee hikes, UH nursing school tuition and fees are still roughly 40 percent lower than the other private colleges on Oahu with nursing programs, Meisenzahl said.

Annual UH nursing tuition will increase to about $14,620 next fall, compared to $26,870 a year for Hawaii Pacific University and $25,480 at Chaminade University, UH said.

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