Minnesota's public colleges and universities will have to raise tuition, cut programs or both under the budget proposed by state lawmakers, warns Larry Pogemiller, the state higher education commissioner.

At this point, Gov. Mark Dayton is seeking nearly $200 million more for higher education than the House and Senate have been willing to authorize, Pogemiller said Thursday.

The governor has requested $3.4 billion, while a conference committee recently approved $3.19 billion.

While the two sides try to work out their differences, Pogemiller predicted that the consequences could be dire for students at both the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State colleges and universities.

"You've got to close that [gap] significantly," Pogemiller said in a conference call with reporters. "Otherwise you're almost intentionally forcing up tuition and degradation of quality and student debt."

"And that just doesn't seem to make any sense right now," he added, in light of an expected billion-dollar budget surplus.

The University of Minnesota has warned that tuition could jump 5 percent next year under the Legislature's current budget plan, which provides an increase of only $18.6 million over the next two years, out of a requested $147 million.

At the same time, the state's other public colleges and universities could face significant cutbacks under the funding bill, Pogemiller said. The Minnesota State system would receive a $78 million increase — $100 million less than it requested — and would be required to freeze or cut tuition over the next two years.

"I think that's a double whammy for Minnesota State," Pogemiller said. "Bottom line, tuition will go up [and] quality will deteriorate."

He noted that some of Minnesota State's schools already are laying off staff and cutting programs to balance their budgets.

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384