A last-minute proposal to freeze tuition at the University of Minnesota was voted down by the board of regents Friday after members said they wanted more time to consider the idea.
President Eric Kaler, who has proposed a 2 percent increase for in-state undergraduates, pledged to offer other options before the board makes its final decision in June.
Regent Michael Hsu urged the board to endorse the idea of a tuition freeze Friday as a way to send a message to the Legislature, which has yet to act on the university's request for an extra $10 million in state funds. The U has offered to freeze tuition if the funds are approved.
"It's an opportunity to go back to the Legislature and tell them that we have on our own frozen tuition," Hsu said. He proposed using any extra state funds to cut tuition.
But several regents said they were reluctant to vote on a freeze before Kaler and his team can specify what budget cuts would have to be made as a result.
"It's premature, I think," said Chairman David McMillan. "This decision in my mind has to be well-informed, and I can't make it without understanding the consequences."
Regent Abdul Omari said he, too, was reluctant to act without more information. "If we don't have the money from tuition, does that mean we're cutting programs?" he asked.
Kaler's proposal would raise undergraduate tuition for Minnesota residents by $258, to $13,058 a year.
Hsu said a freeze would cost about $6 million, a fraction of the U's $3.8 billion budget.
The newest regent, Randy Simonson, who was elected to the board this week, voted with Hsu and Darrin Rosha in favor of the resolution. It was rejected 9-3.
McMillan said the vote should not be taken as a sign that the board will support a tuition increase. He also emphasized that any additional state funds "will all go to prevent tuition increases." But with the Legislature nearing the end of its session, he called it "a long shot" that the U will get the money it requested.
The board has scheduled two public meetings for feedback on the proposal: on the Duluth campus May 16 and the Minneapolis campus May 21. It is also accepting comments online. The board is scheduled to vote on the tuition rate at its June 8 meeting.