Tuition may be going up this fall at the University of Minnesota, but tens of thousands of students won’t pay any more than last year, under a proposal released Friday by President Eric Kaler.
The sticker price for Minnesota residents would rise $306, or 2.5 percent, on the Twin Cities campus. But undergrads from other states and countries would see one of the biggest increases in years: a $2,040, or 10 percent, jump in tuition.
If approved by the Board of Regents, the changes would push the undergraduate rate to $12,546 a year for Minnesota residents, and $22,700 for nonresidents. The new rates are included in Kaler’s budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year.
Some 10,000 undergraduates on the Twin Cities campus would see no hike at all, officials say, thanks to the university’s Promise Scholarship program. Under Kaler’s proposal, the scholarship would cover the increase for state residents with family incomes up to $120,000 a year.
In addition, tuition would be frozen for Minnesota residents at the U’s four other campuses, in Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester.
In all, some 20,000 U students “will see no tuition increase,” said Vice President Richard Pfutzenreuter.
The proposal would cushion the blow for nonresidents by capping the annual increase for returning students at 5.5 percent.
In April, the regents approved a five-year plan to significantly boost nonresident tuition, which is now the lowest in the Big Ten, while keeping in-state costs “to a minimum.”
“We’re going to see what happens to enrollment,” Pfutzenreuter said. “It’s sort of a grand experiment at this point.”
Will they stop coming?
On campus Friday, students cramming for finals seemed to recoil at the idea of a 10 percent tuition hike for nonresidents, even if it won’t affect them personally.
“The U is known for having this really great education for an affordable tuition,” said Simran Mishra, an 18-year-old freshman from Golden Valley. “The only question is, will nonresidents stop coming?” And if so, she added, “how will that affect diversity on campus?”
Alison Gould, a 19-year-old freshman from Iowa, said price was a “pretty high” factor when she chose the U. “One of the big benefits of going here is that it wasn’t as expensive as some of the other Big Ten schools,” she said.
Bria Jamison, a 21-year-old English major from St. Charles, Mo., agreed that the U seemed like a bargain compared with other schools. “I think all college is expensive, so it doesn’t surprise me that eventually even the U would have to up their prices,” she said. But she doubts that her parents will be pleased by the news. “I’m sure my mom’s really mad.”
By comparison, a $306 hike in resident tuition might not sound like much, several students noted. But “it’s more than my paycheck right now,” said Cecelia Altenhofen, a 20-year-old junior from St. Paul.
Under the proposal, students from Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota, who pay in-state rates, will face a 2.5 percent hike this fall. A similar increase is slated for students in graduate and most professional schools, such as law and pharmacy.
Pfutzenreuter said the proposal assumes there will be no increase in state funding this year.
Asked why the U was freezing rates only at its outstate campuses, he said: “They’re different markets.” He noted that they face growing competition from neighboring state universities. “We want to make sure that our outstate campuses are competitive.”
The Board of Regents is expected to debate the plan at its meeting next week and vote in June. It has scheduled a public forum May 12 at 12:45 p.m. to hear feedback on the proposals.