During Tuesday’s Student Council General Body meeting, Holly Sims, vice president for administration and graduate Batten student, presented a proposal to increase the Student Activities Fee by $2 for the 2024-25 academic year for a total fee of $58. This move comes on the heels of a $6 increase in the current academic year.
Sims said this increase would account for further inflation and meet growing demands from CIOs for funding. The proposal is part of a larger solution initiated by last year’s Student Council, which increased the SAF by $6 with the intention of proposing a $2 increase this year, followed by $4 increases in the next three financial cycles that occur every two years.
The SAF is a mandatory fee incorporated into students’ tuition and fees intended to provide financial support to CIOs. Student Council is tasked with allocating the SAF, and supports CIO funding through other avenues.
In the 2022-23 fiscal year, Student Council budgeted $1,045,000 for CIO funding requests — actual requests exceeded the budget by $688,155. Student Council ultimately allocated $926,006 and CIOs spent 90 percent or $834,380.
To further accommodate these requests, Student Council plans to use a remaining $569,141 in surplus SAF funds, mostly leftover from pandemic years when CIOs made less substantial requests. In the past, the surplus helped establish and fund the Student Access Services branch. ‘
However, given that this fund is finite, Sims said Student Council cannot plan on relying on the surplus in the future — excluding surplus funds, Student Council would only have $725,000 available to fund the projected $1.9 million in funding requests from CIOs this year.
“Obviously CIOs are a big lifeblood at U.Va.,” Sims said. “Given this and that we are unable to meet CIO funding demand at current fee revenue levels, it is imperative that we propose a modest increase in student activities to secure a sustainable future for privately run student organizations critical to the extracurricular experience of the University of Virginia.”
Sims also explained that the SAF has not kept pace with inflation. Even with last year’s $6 increase, the real value of the SAF is still 15 percent lower than it was in 2013 — the last time that it increased, according to Sims.
Pending approval by the General Body, Student Council is scheduled to meet with the Student Activities Committee, composed of University administrators and officials, at the end of September to discuss the proposed fee increase.
Sims’ presentation on the proposed SAF increase will be featured in Student Council’s newsletter this week, alongside a feedback form for students. Representatives will review the feedback, propose questions and amendments and ultimately cast their votes to approve or deny the proposal.
Student Council’s General Body will meet again next Tuesday at 6:30 in Ern Commons where Sims will present the 2023-2024 Student Council budget.