Deal or no deal

A tuition freeze should be President Kaler’s priority, with or without more state funding.

Daily Editorial Board

This past week, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler unveiled a proposed budget for 2014 and 2015 that includes an offer to freeze tuition — but only if the state Legislature will give it $42.6 million.

This creative tuition relief request is part of the University’s $1.1 billion budget request for the next biennium. The Board of Regents will approve the University’s request, but the final allocation is determined by the state Legislature and governor.

But if the Legislature decides not to go for this deal, the University, as an institution, would not suffer. It can make up the $42.6 million by continuing to place the burden on students and their families who are already struggling to afford a college education.

Yearly tuition increases have become the norm. In-state tuition increased 152 percent between 2000 and 2010, and tuition will increase 3.6 percent for undergraduates in 2013. Students groan but generally anticipate that they’ll pay more for tuition their senior year than they did when they started.

While we’re happy that the University administration realized that tuition needs to stabilize, we’re still going to lose if the state says no. And since it’s the state saying “no,” the administration is absolved of all responsibility for increasing tuition.

When he presented the budget, Kaler said, “Stabilizing tuition is the best investment we can make in our future.”

If the University believes that, it needs to promise a tuition freeze — deal or no deal.

The administration got creative once before with this proposal. If the state won’t give students $42.6 million in tuition relief, Kaler and friends need to get creative again to find another way to stabilize tuition.