Spring 2017 Commencement at the University of Nevada, Reno. Enrollment Services has proposed a graduation fee price hike to make up for $50,000 cost deficit from spring 2018 commencement.

In a recent ASUN Senate meeting, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Melisa Choroszy revealed that the commencement fee may see a price hike by summer 2019. The reason? Commencement this last spring was nearly $50,000 short.

According to Choroszy, the “shortage communicated with the request to raise the fee”. As to where the excess funds came from to cover the shortage, it was said to have “came from various non-restricted one time sources,” Choroszy said.

The commencement fee is currently $75. The proposed hike would be $20 bringing the cost to $95, according to Choroszy.

Currently, the fee includes various services. However, one of those services is not the walk across the stage itself, as students must pay the fee whether they choose to walk in the ceremony or not.

“[The cost covers] of the costs associated with graduation, communications, programs, disabled access, captioning, live streaming, lighting and sound, video screens, postage, diploma production, graduation processing and degree eligibility verification, personal contact to students missing items for graduation completion, degree certifications, bomb sweeps, ESI security, REMSA, emergency response teams, equipment rental, chairs, stage, stage skirting, fencing, bandshell maintenance, electrical infrastructure to operate equipment, name display software to be able to see name and degree on the screen as you walk across the stage, portable washrooms, water for graduates, text messaging and robo calls to graduates in case of emergency, signage, disabled escort, accessible programs online, maps, and golf carts for special needs,” Choroszy said. “The Graduation fee is a mandatory fee much like the ASUN fee or the fitness fee.  All students pay into it and is needed to be able to provide a consistent and quality experience for all graduates. Walking is a personal choice. It is included as part of the fee. About 95% of the students who apply for graduation participate in the ceremony. The costs of the ceremony are fixed costs.”

In addition to the fee being mandatory for students who choose not to walk, the fee does not include the cap and gown.

“This has never been part of the fee,” Choroszy said. “The fee would have to be raised an additional amount equal to the cap and gown costs.”

The fee raise is necessary to keep running commencement as it has in the past, according to Chrozy. The last fee raise was by $20 in 2011.

“Operating costs have increased over the last five years and the current fee no longer is able to support theses costs,” Choroszy said. “The requested increase is to cover the additional costs associated with ceremonies and graduation processing including postage and mailing of diplomas.”

During the ASUN Senate meeting on Wednesday Sept. 5, Choroszy proposed multiple enhancements to the commencement ceremonies for upcoming years. These included better quality live streaming of the event, barcodes on diplomas so the graduate’s name would be shown on screen as they walk, name coaches for more accurate pronunciation of names and heightened security. However, Choroszy said that this fee increase would not go towards these enhancements, but towards the deficit caused by the flat costs increasing over time.

“It would balance our costs assuming no new enhancements, cost increases or additional improvement costs,” Choroszy said.

The price raise for graduation is not confirmed as it must still go through several committees.

“The fee is being reviewed by the students and the university fee committee,” Choroszy said. “It will be presented at the December board meeting along with all of the special fees and will be implemented for Summer 2019.”

In the past several years, graduation at the University of Nevada, Reno, has seen a bigger increase than ever before. During the Spring 2018 commencement ceremonies, over 3,000 degrees were issued.

This number broke records as it was the most the university has ever issued in a single semester. The number of diplomas given from Spring 2017 to Spring 2018 rose nearly 11 percent and nearly 50 percent since 2010 according to the university.

The increase of degrees is similar to the pattern of enrollment, as the university has seen increasing enrollment while the nations enrollment has fallen. Choroszy reported in a senate meeting in April that university enrollment was estimated to hit 25,000 by 2025.

In addition to the increased enrollment and diplomas, the number of people choosing to participate in commencement is higher than ever. According to Choroszy, an average of 95 percent of graduates have chosen to walk in the commencement ceremony in recent years and the number has only seen growth.

Olivia Ali can be reached at oali@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.