University of Minnesota students will pay more in tuition and fees next school year under a budget approved Monday by the system's regents.
Undergraduate students at the university's Twin Cities and Rochester campuses face 3.5% tuition increases, while students at Crookston, Duluth and Morris will be charged 1% more.
Many in-state students attending the Twin Cities campus, which has the highest enrollment, can expect tuition to rise by about $500 to $14,496.
Board Chair Janie Mayeron called the system's $4.5 billion budget "difficult and complex," noting that state funding accounts for a far smaller portion of the university's revenue than it did when she was a student about 50 years ago. "Obviously, much of this is falling on students," she said.
Regent Robyn Gulley, one of three who joined the board in May, said she was grateful legislators had made efforts to reduce college costs, pointing to a new state program that will eventually provide free tuition to students whose families meet some income requirements. But she said she'd like to see the university work with the state to do more in future years.
"I want to express that and really think about how we go into next year thinking about how we bring those costs down for students," she said.
University administrators said they are relying on increased state funding, tuition and fee increases and one-time "bridge funding" to help balance the budget, which includes efforts to account for inflation and provide raises for some university employees. They are also calling on many departments within the university to take steps to reduce their expenses.
A public document outlining details of the budget proposal didn't include a full accounting of those college-level changes, saying: "Plans are well underway, but in some cases, the actions have not been completely finalized or communicated with the affected units, so unit specific examples are not included in this document."
In public meetings, written comments and protests, some students and faculty members raised concerns about proposed changes at the College of Liberal Arts, saying they worried in particular about cuts to programs focusing on gender and ethnic studies and American Indian studies.
Budget Director Julie Tonneson told regents she and others consulted with leaders in the college and were told "there is no cut to them in terms of what they have to provide for the courses."
The Minnesota State system of colleges and universities is grappling with similar issues. Students there will have their tuition frozen but could see increases in fees. Administrators in that system are also asking colleges and universities to participate in a reallocation process that could boost resources for some programs and shift them away from others, though a full list detailing those changes hasn't yet been released either.