The employee scholarship was reduced in 2009
The University of Minnesota has brought back free tuition for some employees.
President Eric Kaler announced Friday that employees working on their first baccalaureate degree would again have their full tuition covered. Employees seeking a second degree would continue paying 25 percent of tuition, he said.
Clerical employees have been calling on Kaler to restore the Regents Scholarship, which once covered full tuition, but not fees or books, for U employees. The program was reduced during budget cuts in 2009. Since then it has covered 90 percent of tuition for a first degree and 75 percent for a second or master's degree.
Cherrene Horazuk, a U clerical worker and president of the AFSCME unit, called Friday's announcement "a great start."
"We thank President Kaler for listening and responding to our concerns," she said via e-mail. "It's a refreshing and welcome change in labor relations at the university."
But she pushed Kaler to consider complete reinstatement of the scholarship, which she said costs the university no money.
After Friday's meeting Kaler said that at some point it becomes "a dollars-and-cents decision." The scholarship is funded by a pool of money that could be used for other employee benefits, he said.
Given the higher average income of employees who already have a bachelor's degree, it makes sense that they would cover 25 percent of the cost.
"That feels OK to me," he said.