Tuition for Minnesota residents would rise 2 percent, or about $255, at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus this fall under a proposal released Friday by President Eric Kaler.
But U officials say they are still willing to honor a pledge to freeze tuition, first proposed in March, if state lawmakers come through with an extra $10 million in state funding.
Friday’s proposal assumes no extra funding, although the Legislature has not yet made a final decision.
“If we do get that funding from the state, tuition for resident undergraduates would be flat on all campuses,” said spokeswoman Emmalynn Bauer.
But Rep. Bud Nornes, chair of the House higher education committee, called the $10 million request “a long, long, long shot.” So far, House members have approved only $500,000 of the U’s request, while the Senate has not approved any of it. In light of that, Nornes, R-Fergus Falls, said the proposed 2 percent tuition hike seemed reasonable, adding that U officials are “trying to do the best they can to keep the costs low.”
Kaler’s new plan would raise tuition by about $130, or 1 percent, at the Morris campus, and freeze tuition for in-state residents at its other three campuses in Crookston, Duluth and Rochester, in the 2018-2019 school year. In the Twin Cities, in-state tuition (excluding fees) would rise to about $13,055; room and board would increase 2-5 percent on the various campuses.
At the same time, he said that increases in state and federal grants, as well as the U’s Promise Scholarships, will cover all or part of the added costs for thousands of students.
In March, Kaler and the Board of Regents had offered to hold in-state tuition flat for undergraduate students in exchange for an additional $10 million from the Legislature. At the time, Kaler said he hoped to “make the case to lawmakers that the budget surplus should benefit Minnesota’s future: our state’s students.” This year, the U received a total of $658.7 million in state funding; that amount is scheduled to drop by $10 million next year.
In effect, Kaler was hoping to repeat the kind of bargain the U struck with legislators in 2012, when it agreed to freeze tuition for two years in exchange for a boost in state funding. But this time, a deal has been tougher to reach.
Nornes said legislators had received similar requests for extra help this year from both the U and the Minnesota State system, which operates 37 public colleges and universities. Minnesota State, which also is seeking an extra $10 million in state funds, is facing a $33 million deficit and looking at possible layoffs and other cuts.
“The most critical needs seemed to be within the Minnesota State system,” Nornes said. Lawmakers are still debating how much additional money, if any, each system will receive.
Next year, Kaler is proposing an additional $11.6 million in cuts in administrative costs. The proposal would fulfill a pledge he made in 2013 to reduce administrative costs by $90 million over six years. Under the plan, the total savings would exceed the six-year goal by $1.3 million.
Last fall, the regents approved a 15 percent hike in the nonresident tuition rate, which will rise to $28,736 for incoming freshmen, and a 5.5 percent increase for returning students.
The details are included in Kaler’s budget proposal to the Board of Regents. The board is scheduled to vote in June on the new tuition rates.