New tuition plan simpler, cheaper for student body

by Stacy Jo

Only one hurdle remains before the University’s dramatically overhauled 1999-2000 tuition system becomes official.
The proposed plan, which is up for final Board of Regents approval today, was created to adapt the tuition structure to the semester system that begins in fall 1999 and to keep students on track to graduate in four years.
The plan garnered unanimous support at the Board of Regents’ faculty, staff and student affairs committee on Thursday.
“A major objective of the tuition plan has been to provide incentives for students to keep their credits up,” said Peter Zetterberg, director for the Office of Planning and Analysis.
In order to serve institutional and student interests, administrators want to sway students to boost their credit loads — and consequently, the University’s tuition revenue — by appealing to students’ pocketbooks.
In all, the new plan would cut the cost of all credits exceeding 12 to half price on the Twin Cities campus, equalize lower-division and upper-division tuition, eliminate base tuition and extend the number of credits a graduate student can take at a flat fee.
With the new plan, most students will save tuition money over the course of their education; students taking more than 12 credits will see the most significant benefits.
Students will pay $154.50 per credit for each credit up to 12. Each additional credit from 13 on will cost $77.50.
With equalized lower- and upper-division tuition, lower-division students will avoid a 20.8 percent tuition increase between their sophomore and junior year. Administrators estimate that students entering the University in fall 1997 will save $700 on a four-year education. That savings would increase to $1,200 with a five-year education, but would be counteracted by the cost of tuition in the extra year.
At last month’s committee meeting, regents expressed concern over the financial jump that lower-division students will experience in the fall. For a lower-division student taking nine credits per term, tuition will be 13 percent higher in fall 1999. However, that student will actually save $22 — one of the most modest savings levels — over the course of four years.
The plan also calls for eliminating a $62 base tuition that students pay beyond the per-credit rate and allowing graduate students to take three or four classes for the same cost as two courses.
Because the plan creates more straightforward tuition lines, the new system is much more simple, said Ben Solomon, a University graduate student and student representative to the regents.
“I think the system is much more student-friendly than the one it’s replacing,” Solomon said.
The new structure accounts for administrators’ predictions that students will reduce their credit loads after semester conversion, resulting in a significant financial loss for the school.
Under the new plan, students still need to take 15 credits per term to be considered full-time students; this means enrolling in five classes per semester, a move administrators fear many students will not make because they are used to fewer classes under quarters.
As a result of reduced credit loads, the University could lose $12 million in tuition and $6 million in state appropriations, Zetterberg said.