Committee passes new tuition plan

by Jim Martyka

Students attending the University during the 1998-99 school year are likely to see both upper and lower division tuition share the same price.
But whether upper division rates will drop or lower division rates will rise is still undecided.
The Board of Regents Faculty, Staff and Student Affairs Committee accepted the tuition rate change and other changes when it passed a proposal to change sections of the regents’ policy on tuition at its monthly meeting Thursday. The committee also saw a presentation on faculty compensation at the University.
The changes in the tuition policy, which will be voted on by the board today, are expected to pass.
“We would go to the more usual policy of having a single undergraduate tuition rate for all four years,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Marvin Marshak.
Currently, separate rates exist for the two groups. Marshak told the committee there were two main reasons the rates should be combined.
“We want to encourage students to progress by not hitting them with an increase after two years,” he said. “Second, we don’t want to give the impression that lower division is somehow cheaper.”
A team of administrators has worked on reviewing this policy over the past several months. At the regents’ March meeting, the proposed changes were brought up for review.
At Thursday’s meeting, regent Robert Bergland questioned how the tuition rates would be combined, which was not specified in the report.
Marshak explained that the process could not yet be outlined because it depends on the 1998-99 budget recommendations, which will be brought to the board in May for action in June.
Another change in the policy was the elimination of individual course fees, with only a few specific exceptions.
One exception administrators gave was for flight classes, which require additional expenses.
Otherwise, the proposal called for each campus to have one campus-wide fee and each college to have only one college-wide fee for classes.
Another change in the tuition policy includes the addition of an Access, Choice and Quality Need-Based Grant Fund. Administrators said this fund would allocate federal and state money for undergraduate student financial aid.
The policy changes passed unanimously in the meeting after little discussion among regents.
Later in the meeting, Marshak and Peter Zetterberg, the University’s director of planning and analysis, reported on faculty compensation at the University, which, according to their findings, are significantly lower than comparable institutions.
The presentation showed that, of the National Research Council’s top 30 national universities, Minnesota ranked 28th in the salaries of full professors. The University also ranked low in associate and assistant professor salaries.
Administrators explained how raising the faculty compensation to match the mean of the top 30 is the University’s top priority. Zetterberg laid out details of a four-year financial framework, which regents passed last summer, to increase these salaries.
However, they also stressed that the plan is dependent on funding from the state, which will be considerably less than the University requested.
The biennial budget increase allotted to the University is expected to be $60 million to $90 million less than the University’s request of $230 million.
However, Marshak said the four-year plan was based on the assumption that the University would get even less than the $136 million the Senate Higher Education Committee is currently proposing.
Administrators also emphasized that higher salaries were necessary for drawing faculty members to the University and dealing with faculty turnover.
“Replacing the many faculty members who will leave the University over the next five and 10 years is clearly the most significant challenge the University will face,” said Zetterberg.