Regents talk out-of-state tuition strategy

University President Eric Kaler proposed increasing tuition to by 15 percent over the next four years.

by Brian Edwards

In order to more closely match rates at other Big Ten schools, tuition for out-of-state undergraduates at the University of Minnesota might reach $35,000 in a few years.

President Eric Kaler revealed his proposed tuition plan for out-of-state students to the Board of Regents on Thursday.  Kaler’s proposal includes raising out-of-state tuition by $3,200 per year for four years, which would make out-of-state tuition for undergraduates $35,000 by the 2019-2020 school year. Though board members are divided on the logistics of a change, most agree an increase in out-of-state tuition is needed.

“The idea is to get our list price … to $35,000,” Kaler said. “My view is that is an awful lot to ask of students who are already here.”

To prevent such a jarring increase, Kaler’s plan would partially waive tuition for current students so that the increase would be about 5.5 percent per year.

Non-resident students at the University paid about $22,000 for tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 school year, while residents paid about $14,000. The board also examined tuition strategies at other Big Ten schools, including keeping tuition locked at a student’s freshman rate and charging different amounts depending on a student’s major.

Regent Darrin Rosha proposed raising out-of-state tuition all at once to be near the top of the Big Ten, but he said the school could then waive tuition back down to its current amount until officials decide what they would want non-residents to pay.

He said the higher sticker price will achieve the University’s goal of matching the market value of other Big Ten schools, while giving the University more time to devise its plan.

Regent Michael Hsu agreed the University needs to raise out-of-state tuition to match peer institutions.

“If we are going to make arguments like you have to pay market for employees” he said. “Then I think we need to charge market.”

And some incoming students may believe the quality of education is not as good if tuition is so low, Hsu said.

Regent Laura Brod cautioned the board to not raise tuition too quickly as it could scare away potential students, and other regents worried the idea of a high sticker price may be confusing to high school students.

“The average high school student may not understand that no one pays this price,” Regent Linda Cohen said.