U considers 9.5% tuition increase

  • Article by: JEFF SHELMAN
  • Star Tribune
  • May 3, 2008 - 6:59 AM

Tuition and fees at the University of Minnesota would take a 9.5 percent leap if Gov. Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal becomes reality, compared with the planned 7.5 percent increase, university leaders said Friday.

The university has already planned to raise tuition and fees for the 2008-09 school year, a move that will bring the price tag for residents over the $10,000 mark for the first time. On Friday, the university said that will remain the plan, even if the DFL-controlled Legislature follows through on plans to cut $5 million to $10 million from its budget.

But the university warned of the additional 2 percentage point increase if the Republican governor's proposed cut of $27.3 million is enacted.

"If we get to $27 million, we'll do some more cutting, but we're going to have to turn to tuition," said Richard Pfutzenreuter, a university vice president and chief financial officer. "It's a pretty simple message."

Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung was disappointed with the U's stance.

"Last year, the University of Minnesota received a 17 percent increase in funding from the state," McClung said. "Even with that large increase, the U raised tuition by 7 percent -- and now they're talking about another 7.5 or 9.5 percent increase. We are very disappointed that the U can't hold tuition increases to a reasonable level when they are receiving funding increases that are several times the rate of inflation."

At the U's Twin Cities campus, students from families making less than $150,000 currently pay about $9,700 in tuition and fees. That would increase to $10,435 if the state appropriation is cut by $10 million. If the appropriation is cut by $27 million, students would pay about $10,650.

Students from families making more than $150,000 would see their total cost increase to about $10,650 or, with the deeper budget cut, about $10,900.

Tuition on the outstate campuses are slightly less, but students at Minnesota Duluth will also see tuition and fees move past the $10,000 mark for the first time.

"It's a difficult budget," Pfutzenreuter said. "Given the economic situation, we prefer not to have to increase tuition as much, but we need to make investments.

"The president wants to keep the university's momentum moving forward."

McClung said that it is possible to keep tuition increases down.

"The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System received a 13 percent state funding increase last year and managed to keep their tuition increases at 3 percent for four-year institutions and 2 percent for two-year institutions," McClung said. "Maybe it's time the U talked to their colleagues at MnSCU to get some ideas about holding down tuition growth."

Jeff Shelman • 612-673-7478

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