Health fee faces raise to kill debt

By Pam Schmidt

Students might have to pay more money in the future for health care on campus to cover a debt situation predicted to develop within two years.

Although the NIU University Health Service is not requesting a student fee increase for fiscal year 1989, an increase might be needed to cover an estimated $320,000 debt for FY90, said John Engstrom, President’s Fee Study Committee member.

“The health center is not asking for an increase now, but it is built in and is going to happen,” Engstrom said.

“Are we looking at another significant increase in FY90 to cover deficits?” said PFSC member Doug Dobson.

Dana Mills, assistant director for the health center, said the health center does not anticipate any program changes and, therefore, has projected a “maintenance budget” for FY89.

Gary Gresholdt, administrative assistant to the vice president for student affairs, said the “cash carry-over and income is enough to support the health center through FY89. However, the budget suggests a need for a fee increase for FY90 and FY91.”

Student Association President Jim Fischer said a new system for fee review was developed in an attempt to plan ahead and avoid large, sporadic and unforseen student fee increases. Beginning this year, budget review teams were to create projected three-year budgets based on uniform guideline estimates in areas such as enrollment/credit hour, utilities, price increases and salary increases.

Gresholdt also said the health center is “service intensive,” which means much of the budget is closely related to salary increments.

If the projected budget indicated a deficit, budget review teams were instructed to prepare “multi-year funding strategies … to meet the identified needs.”

Mills said the expected deficit situation might result in a possible increase of 60 cents per credit hour, totalling $12.40 per year for FY90.

Fischer said he would like to look into raising the fee gradually, rather than continue to jump student fees in such large amounts.

The amount of general revenue allocated also affects the budget. General revenue funds allocated to the health center has been decreased for FY89 by more than 4 percent. Part of the general revenue fund for the health center is used to support salaries, Mills said.

Gresholdt said it is difficult to predict what future budgets might bring; however, “as the years get closer we will have better information about inflation and salary increments.”