Illustration: The rising cost of a college education.

M. Ryder, Tribune Media Services

U tuition should be fairer for residents

  • Article by: BOB BARRETT
  • January 8, 2013 - 7:54 PM

Today, as University of Minnesota students continue their much-deserved winter break, the Minneapolis campus is being overrun by politicians attending a legislative policy conference titled "One Minnesota ... our state ... our future."

Given the mission of the conference, and its location on the U campus, this seems a great time to provide feedback on university President Eric Kaler's recent commentary defending the U's use of scarce public resources ("The state pulls back, but the U marches on," Jan. 6).

Kaler was responding to a prior commentary, which in turn had referred to a Wall Street Journal article about the high cost of college tuition that had detailed the growth in administrators hired at the U in recent years. The article explained that administrative cost increases result in college tuition increases.

While I agree with this, there are additional factors.

Simply put, the tuition that Minnesota parents pay for their kids to attend the University of Minnesota is unnecessarily high, and can be lowered with one policy change and one stroke of President Kaler's pen.

You see, the U charges Minnesota kids and their parents $13,524 for tuition and fees while charging just $18,774 to nonresidents. This amounts to a "hometown" discount of only $5,250.

The U charges in-state students more than every Big Ten school but two, while the rate it charges nonresidents is lower than every school in the conference. The combination makes the U extremely unfriendly to Minnesota students wanting to become a Golden Gopher.

Nebraska charges Cornhusker kids just $6,480, while charging non-Nebraska residents $19,240. The University of Michigan charges future Wolverines $13,000, while charging non-Michigan residents $39,000.

At Kaler's former school, Stony Brook University, non-New Yorkers pay 300 percent more than New York residents.

These large differences between resident and nonresident tuition rates are the norm, not only in the Big Ten but all over the country. This is because resident families already contribute to their local schools in a large way. Minnesota taxpayers contribute more than $10,000 per year to the university for each student who attends it.

The data is clear: Minnesota kids who wear maroon and gold are subsidizing the cost of tuition for nonresidents. This "subsidy" needs to end -- and quickly, since the U needs to be more accountable to Minnesota and since Minnesota families need the help.


Bob Barrett, R-Lindstrom, is a member of the Minnesota House.

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