A long-term tuition freeze

University administrators and lawmakers must continue to find ways to keep costs low.

Though there are many benefits to a tuition freeze, one drawback is that it’ll eventually thaw out.

Last spring, Minnesota lawmakers voted to fund the tuition freeze requested by University of Minnesota administrators for undergraduate students, holding tuition down for the next two years. Though certainly not a perfect deal — fees increased and tuition rose for non-resident and graduate students — University officials put a lot of effort into working with the Legislature to get the necessary increase in state funding.

However, Minnesota Student Association’s then-President Taylor Williams rightly voiced concerns about sustainability. While the budget made steps in the right direction, Williams said “we must remember that it only makes a small impact in the context of a decade-plus-long trend of cost increases that have fallen squarely on students.”

Indeed, in order for the University to make a noticeable dent in the cost of tuition, administrators and state lawmakers must continue to find ways to avoid increasing tuition down the road.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mark Dayton gave a speech hinting that college affordability may continue to be a major focus in the state Legislature. On Saturday, Minnesota Public Radio reported that Dayton said he’d like to use a projected $750 million budget surplus to help lower the cost of higher education.

Given the trend of decreasing state support for the University in the past, the Legislature would do well to use part of the projected budget surplus to continue to keep tuition down. Lawmakers should also work to keep costs down for graduate and non-resident students, who make up a significant portion of the University community.

Though a significant victory, the tuition freeze should only be considered the first of many steps in achieving the goal of college affordability.