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ASUH fights for in-state tuition

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Associated Students of the University of Hawai‘i (ASUH) senators have helped change a bill that would have made state residents pay out-of-state tuition for earning more than 140 credits.

HB 1799 was introduced at the beginning of the 2016 Legislative Session by Representative Isaac Choy. ASUH senators and Vice President for Academic Affairs Risa Dickson submitted testimony in opposition to the bill.

“This is gonna affect a lot of double majors, the people who transfer over and people who take minors,” Jessica Chen, an ASUH senator, said. “You’re basically limiting their education.”

On Feb. 19, 2016, the bill was amended and the credit cap was raised to 150 credits. Other amendments allowed students to complete two majors. Credits earned from Advanced Placement tests, the Early STAR Program or the Running Start program will not count toward the 150 credit limit.

“It is a matter of statewide concern that some students who receive the resident tuition rate do not complete their undergraduate degrees in a reasonable time,” the bill states.

Todd Simeroth, ASUH Legislative Fellow, said this bill was not well received by the State House of Representatives and that there was much opposition.

“He’s done this before, bring out things that are outrageous,” Simeroth said. “I think Choy really wants to bring up this discussion of how to get people out in four years which is a big focus on administration.”

ASUH pushes back

Of the five written testimonies available on the State Legislature’s website, four of them came from ASUH senators: Chen, Simeroth, Grant Takara and Maggie Hinshaw. All ASUH senators testified as individuals and not on behalf of ASUH.

“Should we wish to keep innovative and hardworking individuals within the State of Hawaii we

need to reduce the barriers and resources that prevent them from reaching their greatest potential,” Takara’s testimony states.

Chen said she found the bill “really disturbing” because it was not specific about the 140 credits, that it was just 140 credits and done.

While written testimony was submitted, Chen went to the Capitol in person to testify against the bill. Kelly Zakimi, ASUH president, said legislators like to hear from students and what Chen said was more powerful because she spoke to them in person.

Zakimi said that despite the amendments made to the bill, there are still some lingering concerns. She said the bill now only provides for students to complete two majors when there are those who want to complete more than that.

What’s next?

“Looking at it from the standpoint of the changes that have been made for the students, it probably doesn’t make that big of an impact,” Simeroth said.

Simeroth said the next step is for the House Finance Committee to hear the bill and if they don’t, the bill dies. If they do hear the bill and it passes, then it crosses over to the State Senate where Brian Taniguchi, chair of the senate committee on higher education and the arts, can choose to read it or not.

Chen is in the process of drafting a resolution to submit to the ASUH general senate. She said that if the bill advances further, she will submit more testimony.

What do you think? Should students be penalized for taking too many credits?