Admins talk out-of-state tuition hike

Leaders debated a measure that would raise out-of-state tuition $3,200 a year over four years.

Kristina Busch

Pending approval from the Board of Regents, tuition and fees for nonresident undergraduates at the University of Minnesota could reach roughly $35,000 by 2020.
Although University President Eric Kaler proposed to raise nonresident tuition to the midpoint among Big Ten schools last December, regents discussed the plan with school administrators at last week’s board meetings. Under the plan, financial aid awards would also increase.  
While some regents were receptive to increases on nonresidents, most members of the board either said the proposed timeline moved too quickly or were uncomfortable with any sort of tuition hike. 
“Historically, the perspective of the University was low tuition for all,” said Regent Darrin Rosha at Friday’s meeting. “That way, anybody from any walk could afford to come to the University, get a degree, pursue the career of his or her interest and pay forward to the next generation through taxes.”
If approved, tuition would increase by about $3,200 a year over the next four years.
After the state Legislature didn’t fully fund a requested tuition freeze during last year’s session, rates for resident undergraduates increased by 1.5 percent and 7 percent for nonresident, nonreciprocity students.
The plan to increase tuition comes after the school lowered tuition for nonresidents in 2008 in an effort to lure more out-of-state undergraduates to the school. 
This year, with fees included, resident undergraduates at the University will pay the seventh-highest tuition rate in the Big Ten conference, while nonresident, nonreciprocity students pay the lowest rate.
The proposal also comes after the University has received pressure from state legislators to increase tuition for out-of-state students in order to keep prices lower for residents. 
Rep. Bob Barrett, R-Taylors Falls, who has previously supported a tuition hike for nonresidents, said he supports Kaler’s plan as long as it benefits students from Minnesota. 
“The bigger issue isn’t the amount or the time frame but how they spend the money,” he said.
To help keep tuition for resident undergraduates reasonable, the plan proposes to keep costs for those students in the middle of the Big Ten.
But student government leaders say they oppose any increases to tuition. 
“A lot of students choose this university, especially out-of-state students, because they can get a world-class education at a reduced, more affordable price compared to elsewhere,” said Minnesota Student Association Government and Legislative Affairs Director Nick Wilson. “In Minnesota, there’s an average of $30,000 in student debt by the time they leave with a four-year degree. We need to take our students’ future into account and make school more affordable.”
Callie Livengood, chair of the Student Representatives to the Board of Regents, said tuition increases could impact the University’s efforts to recruit diverse students.
“When we start raising tuition … it makes it harder to attract more broad, diverse groups of students,” she said.  
This year, resident undergraduates will pay $12,240 in tuition compared to $20,660 for nonresidents.  
The Regents are expected to vote on Kaler’s proposal in March.