Don’t write off a tuition freeze yet

by Daily Editorial Board

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget for the coming academic year includes a tuition increase of between 1.5 and 7 percent, the Minnesota Daily reported last week.
Last fall, Kaler announced his intention to work with state legislators to secure a continued undergraduate tuition freeze and expand the freeze to cover graduate and professional students. 
Legislators last month granted the University about $22 million to go toward holding tuition steady — about one-third of the administration’s $65 million request. That funding package was too small to allow for another tuition freeze, Kaler said in a Thursday email to the University’s students, faculty and staff. 
But legislators shouldn’t be blamed for what becomes of the tuition freeze, said Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, who chairs the Senate’s higher education committee. Rather than ensure tuition is held flat, she told the Daily, lawmakers’ task is to provide the University with as much state investment as possible.
Some say there’s still hope of sidestepping a tuition increase. At Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, Regent Michael Hsu said he would like the administration to use internal savings to extend the freeze in next year’s budget, a move expected to require $6.1 million in reallocation. The board will vote on the budget on June 24.
Without the full $65 million requested from the Legislature, extending the tuition freeze will be difficult. At the same time, students’ financial health should be an administrative priority, one that calls for creative problem solving. We hope administrators fully explore the possibility of a tuition freeze using internal funds.