Tuition hikes loom for some

President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget continues the freeze for resident undergraduates.

Tuition hikes loom for some

Meghan Holden

Tuition will stay frozen at the University of Minnesota next year, but prices will rise for some students if University President Eric Kaler’s budget proposal passes.

Kaler plans to continue the two-year tuition freeze for undergraduates paying resident tuition, according to his newly released 2014-15 budget proposal. Though some students won’t see a hike, higher prices will fall on nonresidents and some graduate students.

The Board of Regents will review the president’s proposal Friday and vote on a final budget June 13.

The freeze is part of the University’s deal with the state Legislature to help combat growing tuition rates for Minnesota students. It affects undergraduates from Minnesota and those from states that pay reciprocity rates, which accounts for about 80 percent of Twin Cities undergraduates.

Kaler said reducing costs for residential undergraduate students is one of his main objectives.

His plan would raise nonresident undergraduate tuition by $1,000 for Twin Cities nonresident undergraduates — a 5.5 percent increase from this year. The plan doesn’t include tuition hikes for nonresidents at the University’s other campuses.

Despite the higher prices, Kaler said he isn’t concerned about attracting nonresident students.

“I think we’re very competitive in bringing out-of-state students here,” he said. “Growing that cohort modestly is also a goal of ours, and I think we’ll be able to do that even with this fairly modest tuition increase.”

The University has one of the narrowest tuition gaps between residents and non-residents in the Big Ten. This year, University non-resident undergraduates paid about $6,250 more than their in-state counterparts.

Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education Robert McMaster previously told the Minnesota Daily that the nonresident tuition rate will likely rise in an attempt to stay competitive in the Big Ten, making the institution one of the more moderately expensive schools.

Graduate tuition increases

Like last year’s budget, Kaler’s plan includes an approximately 3 percent tuition hike for graduate students.

Tuition for dentistry, pharmacy and first-year law students would also climb slightly.

Keaton Miller, a Council of Graduate Students executive board member, said the yearly tuition increases for graduate schools is worrisome for the programs’ future.

He said the University has also cut stipend expenditures for graduate assistants, fellows and trainees in recent years to save money.

“The stuff that’s being offered to graduate students is not nearly as nice as it was when Kaler came into office,” he said. “As a group, we’re kind of concerned about that.”

Tuition rates for resident graduate students increased by about 88 percent in the past decade, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

COGS members plan to address regents and administrators with their concerns at a public forum Friday after the Board meeting.

Room and board hike

Kaler’s budget plan would also raise the cost of living on campus.

The price of room and board for residence halls on the Twin Cities campus would increase by $242, or nearly 3 percent, next year.

That increase, Kaler said, stems from last fall’s addition of the 17th Avenue Hall last fall — the first new residence hall on the Twin Cities campus in more than a decade.

“Unfortunately, as we bring new buildings on, we do have to finance them with room rates,” he said.

Minnesota Student Association President-elect Joelle Stangler said because the budget proposal calls for an increase in both tuition rates and room and board fees, “it doesn’t truly feel like a tuition freeze.”

“It kind of seems to shift funding rather than prioritize affordability overall,” she said.

Helping out UMD

The University’s Duluth campus could see a substantial increase to its operating budget with Kaler’s proposed $4.2 million allocation of state funds.

The 13 percent increase would help alleviate a portion of the campus’ financial woes after the school faced a nearly $10 million budget shortfall this budget cycle.

Duluth Chancellor Lendley Black said although the extra money will be helpful, it won’t completely solve all of the school’s budget problems. He said the proposed budget would reduce the campus’s deficit to about $5.5 million.

The campus plans to increase its enrollment and assess where it can make cuts to get the school back on sturdy financial footing, he said.

“We want to celebrate our successes but also be aware that we have more work to do,” Black said.