Proposed budget extends tuition freeze beyond undergrads

In the proposal, Kaler also asked the state Legislature to allocate $5 million more to the University each of the next two fiscal years.

by Blair Emerson

Come next year, the University of Minnesota’s tuition freeze could affect more students.

University President Eric Kaler’s 2016-17 biennial budget request includes a continued tuition freeze for students paying undergraduate in-state tuition — but it also proposes a similar freeze for graduate and professional students who pay the same tuition.

“We think that’s an extraordinarily important step to take, and we’re requesting the Legislature fund us appropriately so that we’re able to do that for Minnesota students and their families,” Kaler said at a Wednesday news conference in the McNamara Alumni Center.

The proposed tuition freeze would save a graduate student about $1,600 over a two-year master’s degree, and a typical medical student would save about $5,000 over a four-year degree program. The tuition freeze would also save incoming freshmen anywhere from $2,133 to $2,565, depending on which campus they attend.

Kaler will present the budget request to the Board of Regents at its monthly meeting on Friday.

According to his proposal, first-year graduate and professional students would pay the same amount in tuition each of their first two years, beginning next academic year.

Kaler is requesting more than $1.3 billion from the Legislature. This request would put the University’s funding levels on par with those it received in 2008.

In the proposal, Kaler also asks the state to invest an additional $5 million for each year of the request. In exchange, the University intends to reduce its Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renovation request — which provides state funding for facility maintenance and upkeep — by a matching $5 million each year.

“For whatever reason, we haven’t been able to be successful in bringing the HEAPR funds that the campus needs,” Kaler said at the news conference. “The definition of insanity is you keep trying to do the same thing and it fails.”

In addition to the tuition freeze, Kaler’s request includes $32 million that would cover research and academic initiatives in healthcare, mining and rural or urban communities.

For more information about the proposed tuition freeze and Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, pick up Monday’s issue of the Minnesota Daily.