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Tuition freeze is still possible at U, President Kaler says

$42 million.

That's the amount the University of Minnesota would need in extra state funds to continue freezing tuition for undergraduate state residents, President Eric Kaler said Friday.

So depending on how legislators decide to split the $166 million that their leaders have agreed to set aside for higher education, he said there's a good chance tuition won't go up at the U, at least for Minnesota undergrads.

The U had asked for a bigger increase, in part to extend the tuition freeze to graduate students and to expand other programs. But Kaler reaffirmed Friday that his first priority is extending the undergraduate tuition freeze that began in 2013.

"If we get $42 million, there will not be a tuition increase for Minnesota resident undergraduates," he said Friday.

Officials at the Minnesota's other public college system, MnSCU, have also asked for funds to extend the tuition freeze at its seven state universities and 24 two-year colleges. A spokesman released a brief statement Friday, noting that the precise dollar amount slated for MnSCU won't be known until a legislative conference committee completes its work.

The tuition rates for this fall will be set this summer by the U Board of Regents and MnSCU's Board of Trustees.

Filing glitch lands MnSCU on federal financial watch list

Two years ago, a state agency missed a deadline to file paperwork with the U.S. Department of Education.

Now, that mistake has come back to haunt Minnesota's State Colleges and Universities. For the second year in a row, MnSCU's 31 schools have landed on a government watch list of 550 colleges requiring "extra financial scrutiny."

And officials are scrambling to explain that doesn't mean the schools are in financial trouble.

"It is important to realize that this action does not in any way suggest financial instability or any other problems in the MnSCU system or its colleges and universities," school officials said in a statement released Wednesday.

The Department of Education released its new watch list on Tuesday, prompting calls of concern to MnSCU offices, said spokesman Doug Anderson.

Apparently, the mistake occurred in 2013, when Minnesota's Office of Management and Budget missed the federal deadline to file an audit of MnSCU's financial aid programs. As a result, MnSCU has faced some "special requirements" for disbursing financial aid, but it's "not having any direct impact on students," the statement said.

Once on the federal list, a college or university remains on it for five years.

In addition, four private Minnesota colleges were put on heightened financial scrutiny for other reasons, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.They are:

Art Institutes International in Minneapolis

Brown College in Mendota Heights

Crossroads College in Rochester

Walden University in Minneapolis

The reasons cited were  "financial responsibility" or "administrative capability."