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Final U budget promises hikes in tuition amid disagreements

Incoming resident tuition will rise 2 percent, while the nonresident, nonreciprocity rate will raise 12.5 percent.

University of Minnesota students will see tuition hikes in the coming year after the Board of Regents finalized the 2018 fiscal year budget Tuesday.

In a meeting dominated by discussion over how much, or whether, they should raise tuition, regents approved a budget with a slightly lower increase for residents and a steeper hike for nonresidents than originally proposed.

The finalized budget raises tuition by 2 percent for residents, and 12.5 percent, or $2,778, for nonresident students. Continuing nonresident, nonreciprocity students will see an increase of 5.5 percent.

Historically, tuition for resident students has increased by 1.4 percent per year at the Twin Cities campus.

“I believe we have a reached a compromise that will sit with everyone,” said University President Eric Kaler at the meeting.

The original budget proposal included a 3 percent increase for residents and a 10 percent increase for nonresidents without reciprocity. The resident hike would have generated about a $10 million revenue increase for the University.

To maintain the revenue gains with the 2 percent hike, the approved budget cut $1 million in repair and restoration funding, $2 million in 2019 fiscal year funding, and $300,000 from academic programming funding.

The increased 12.5 percent nonresident hike will add $600,000 to University revenue.

Regent Steve Sviggum proposed a budget amendment, which later failed, to lower compensation for various University administrative positions. The amendment would have reduced resident tuition by 1 percent, but was met with resistance from regents.

“Most of the cost is people,” Sviggum said at the meeting. “I am going to offer another option, it is not radical, it’s reasonable.”

Regent Richard Beeson opposed the amendment and said at the meeting the school should emphasize high value for students, not low cost.

“The University wouldn’t be the same if our predecessors hadn’t made these investments [with tuition],” he said at the meeting. “This amendment implies that we are inefficient.”

Regent Patricia Simmons didn’t support Sviggum’s amendment either. It would have reduced the budget’s 2 percent employee salary raise to 1 percent.

“We already have retention battles going on,” Simmons said at the meeting.

Regent David McMillan supported a smaller increase to resident tuition than what passed, but did not want to lower tuition.

“I oppose [a] tuition decrease because that would decrease competitiveness,” he said at the meeting.

Another amendment proposed by Regent Michael Hsu would have frozen tuition for all University campuses, but failed in a vote.

When advocating for his amendment at the meeting, Hsu said the State Legislature preferred a tuition freeze.

While debate on the tuition portion of the budget made up most of the meeting, the regents also approved a change to the board’s different committee functions and structure.

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