The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents has approved the U’s budget for the 2018 academic year. This budget includes tuition increases of 2 percent and 1 percent for Minnesotans attending the Twin Cities and system campuses, respectively, ensuring that Minnesotans continue to pay tuition that has grown at less than the rate of inflation for the past six years. The relatively low increase reflects our commitment to access and affordability, and the ability to limit increases is a result of historically strong support from the state.
The university is not just the state’s leading research institution, but an institution respected around the world for its contributions. But our recently passed budget marks a unique milestone that is important to highlight. Support from the state is changing, and the university is challenged to maintain excellence with the investment we receive.
This past legislative session, we did not receive the investment required to hold tuition flat for Minnesota’s students, and the budget approved Tuesday reflects that gap in funding. The process of setting the university’s budget is complex, with stakeholders involved every step of the way. We are committed to providing a world-class education that is accessible and affordable, and as such, the decision to increase tuition is not one we make lightly. However, if we are to continue serving Minnesota’s students, economy and well-being with current funding, an increase in tuition is a difficult but necessary decision.
We know the pressure that the state budget is under, but we also know that an investment in higher education remains a proven way to improve personal, professional and statewide outcomes. Indeed, the median annual earning potential of someone with a B.A. degree is $56,700, or 74 percent more than an individual with only a high school diploma. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require education or training beyond high school.
The university, now more than 150 years old, has been a staple of Minnesota life whether you are a farmer, an educator, a businessperson, a health care provider or in any number of other professions. For longer than Minnesota has been a state, the university has educated, inspired and served Minnesota and its residents.
We are grateful to the state for its continued support. We will work harder, more transparently and with a relentless focus on demonstrating, each and every day, that investments in the university yield long-term, positive results for our graduates, this state and our future.
Eric Kaler is president of the University of Minnesota. Brian Burnett is the university’s senior vice president for finance and operations.