Out-of-state tuition will rise in fall

Undergraduate costs will increase by $1,000 next year, and that amount will grow in the future.

by Taylor Nachtigal

Amid another proposed tuition freeze for undergraduate students paying in-state tuition, out-of-state University of Minnesota students will see a tuition hike next year.

School leaders plan to steadily increase out-of-state tuition costs, putting the institution more in line with its peers’ rates, but the impending hikes have raised concerns about the rising costs of attending the University.

This year, out-of-state, non-reciprocity tuition is $20,876, and that price is set to go up by $1,000 next school year, said Bob McMaster, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education. Eventually, he said, tuition for those students will sit
somewhere between $29,000 and $30,000.

“The plan was not to do this all at once,” McMaster said. “Let’s bring the number up year by year, reviewing each year what is thought reasonable.”

At a University Senate and Faculty Senate joint meeting earlier this month, some students pressed President Eric Kaler for answers on the future of out-of-state tuition costs.

“It’s unfortunate. I would like to have this institution be lower-priced for out-of-state students, too,” he said at the meeting. “But if we move to what many in our state government view as a more equitable share of cost between in-state and out-of-state students, we work through that tuition hump.”

While concerns surrounding the raise are bubbling, McMaster said the University could consistently increase out-of-state tuition over the next few years and still it would never be at the top of the Big Ten.

The University’s out-of-state tuition is currently the lowest of the 14 schools in the Big Ten.

Excluding Northwestern University, the conference’s only private school, the University of Michigan tops the Big Ten at $41,906 for out-of-state tuition.

“As we started to look at tuition and fees, the decision was made that there was no longer any reason to be at the absolute bottom of the Big Ten,” McMaster said.

Board of Regents Chair Richard Beeson said the board has been discussing the issue for years.

“It’s an involved conversation, it’s a strategic conversation and it’s a conversation that needs constant attention,” he said. “The market conditions change fairly quickly, and when you overlay that with a change in demographics, the result is we need to focus more on enrollment issues more than we have anytime in the past.”

Excluding North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin —the states that have reciprocity agreements with Minnesota — the University had 2,760 out-of-state students out of its 28,540-student body in spring 2014.

But some worry the increase will affect the University’s appeal to non-resident students.

“I do think they’re hurting themselves … especially with the way Minnesota seems to struggle in getting students from outside of the Midwest,” said Anna Sinclair, an arts and management sophomore from Hawaii. “One of the main reasons I came here was because it was so cost-efficient.”

Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, said she thinks the University doesn’t put as much effort into recruiting out-of-state students because it’s a land-grant institution with a mission and responsibility to serve Minnesota students.

“I think the bigger question, strategically, is what is [the] value we place on recruiting out-of-state students?” she said.

Still, University leaders insist the school will maintain its appeal to students from across the nation.

“We are significantly out of line in the costs of out-of-state tuition, and we do have some reason to believe that raising that to something more in line with our peers is not going to hurt us comparatively in recruiting,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Karen Hanson said at Friday’s Board of Regents meeting.

Beeson said the University is in a comfortable position where it has room to raise prices without detracting out-of-state student interest.

“For out-of-state tuition, it needs to be driven by marketplace conditions,” he said, “And if we see that demand is strong enough to allow us to increase tuition, then we’ll do that.”

While administrators aren’t worried about the increases affecting enrollment, some students want the school to be more transparent about forthcoming changes.

Minnesota Student Association President Joelle Stangler raised her concerns in a letter to the Board of Regents last week that she co-authored with two other students. She said she’s worried about the school’s transparency regarding out-of-state tuition for future students.

“We’d love if we could inform [prospective out-of-state students] better on the front end and make it always in the front of their minds that this is going to be something that is going to be happening in the future,” she said.

Stangler said it is especially important to communicate rising costs to potential students, so they know what they can expect to pay.

“We need to make sure that out-of-state students who are coming here, who are coming out of their comfort zone, who might not necessarily have parents next door if something goes wrong financially — they need to be able to plan ahead for their total cost of attendance,” Stangler said.