Tuition proposals

by Jeremy Taff

The regents are selling it, but student leaders say they don’t buy it.
University President Mark Yudof and regents contend a 3 percent tuition increase will be necessary to cover next year’s faculty and staff pay raises. Student leaders countered that a 2.5 percent hike would be adequate, being consistent with the rate of inflation.
Central administrators reviewed the proposed tuition increases at the regular Board of Regents meeting Thursday, and discussions will continue this morning in Morrill Hall. The board will vote to approve the University operating budget, which includes the tuition increases, at their next meeting in June.
In addition to his proposal for tuition increases, Yudof suggested in his budget plan about $13 million of the $35.5 million supplemental bill passed by the state Legislature on April 10 be set aside as recurring funds for faculty and staff member compensation.
“The optimum increase should be zero, but we have important things to get done at this University,” Yudof said.
Based on a $4,500 annual tuition bill, a 3 percent increase amounts to an extra $135; a 2.5 percent hike equals an extra $111.
“It was the consensus of the board that we must do whatever we possibly can to hold tuition down while maintaining quality education,” Regent Julie Bleyhl said.
In 1996, tuition increased by 8 percent. Last year, it went up another 2.5 percent.
Minnesota Student Association President Jigar Madia said administrators vowed to keep the tuition increase at 2.5 percent this year.
“The bottom line is the University is capable of reaching the tuition goals set last year,” he said.
“The additional revenue gained from abandoning last year’s tuition goal is a minute fraction of the percentage of the University’s overall budget and can be accounted for through internal reallocation,” Madia said.
No one on the board wanted to raise tuition, Yudof said, but the increase is necessary to keep pace with salaries at other major universities.
The additional tuition will go to pay increases for faculty and staff members. Madia said he’d like to see students benefit from the recent generosity of the legislature.
“The University is coming off of two record years from the state Legislature,” Madia said, “and should include the students in its prosperity.”
At the meeting, regents also focused on the inequality between upper- and lower-division tuition rates.
Upper-division — juniors and seniors — students pay more than lower-division students and regents said they will work to make the tuition rates equal for all undergraduates by the 2000-01 academic year.
“We want to reduce the differential to zero,” Regent Michael O’Keefe said. “We’ve been trying to do some equalizing.”