Students at the University of Alberta could face a new annual fee of up to $570 to help deal with the budget deficit at the school. ((CBC))

University of Alberta students could have the cost of attending school increase by as much as $570 a year if administrators approve a new fee aimed at dealing with a $59-million budget deficit.

"The proposal for the common space security and sustainability fee was part of a discussion that began in September," said university provost Carl Amrhein.

"It's not something that we're pleased to do, nor is it something that we were anticipating doing before the wheels fell off the economy."  

The university's board of governors has also approved a 1.5 per cent general tuition increase, the largest that provincial legislation will allow, as well as a rise in the cost of housing for students.

"We're disappointed because it means, it means that it's another obstacle in pursuit of their post-secondary education," said Zach Fentiman, president of the students' union.

"Some are already considering dropping out of school because of these fees," Fentiman said. "They know that these are on their way. They're already making plans to leave, and forfeit their academic careers."

The university's website lists tuitions for the current academic year ranging from $6,214 for a two-term year of Arts to $11,008 for Law to $20,452 for Dentistry.

The proposal is aimed at sharing the burden of the deficit among students, faculty, staff and the administration, Amrhein said.

"If we fill the revenue gap, the $59-million gap between revenue and expenses successfully, then what the students will see is an undiminished quality of the academic programs that we have."

University officials will vote on the proposed fee March 26. If approved, it will be charged at the start of the next school year.