A fleeting victory

Kaler’s tuition freeze will not prevent nearly half of University students from paying more next school year.

Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents approved President Eric Kaler’s 2013-14 budget last week, freezing tuition for resident undergraduates at $12,060 for two years.

While this freeze is commendable, it comes with unanswered questions. It’s also important to note that nearly half of University students will see as many hikes as they ever have.

More than 21,200 students, including all graduate and professional students and non-resident undergraduates, will see tuition hikes ranging from 3 to 9 percent, the Minnesota Daily reported on June 6. Additional hikes to room and board, student service fees and course fees will affect all students.

The freeze represents a victory for University students, albeit a limited one. Its benefits will be moot if tuition rises sharply in 2016.

“Every time you say that word ‘freeze,’ … there is a cliff to climb at the end of the freeze,” Regent John Frobenius said during Kaler’s budget presentation. “I do think we need to spend a little time understanding what happens three years from now.”

Kaler and the administration have not provided sufficient answers to this and other long-term questions about the budget.

Finally, by raising non-resident tuition, the University is beginning to reverse one of its most distinctive but overlooked attributes. In the 2012-2013 school year, the University had the smallest gap between resident and non-resident tuition for a public institution in the Big Ten.

Low out-of-state tuition makes the University unique among its peer institutions, and the increased diversity it provides is worth the cost. A $1,000 increase keeps the tuition gap relatively small, but it represents a troubling paradigm shift in the way the University views out-of-state students.