U of M President Offers Tuition Freeze in Exchange for State Funding
In-state undergraduate students at the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota are paying $12,060 this year for tuition. Most expect to pay more next year.
"It's gotten a lot higher," said U of M Senior Paul Kornmann.
"My parents are helping me too, but it's kind of hard to manage," said U of M Freshman Lauren Vanlerverghe.
Now, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler says tuition will stay steady, if the state will chip in more money.
"It won't be an easy conversation, but I think many people realize also that the University took more than its fair share of cuts in the past three years," Kaler said.
Part of Kaler's 2014-2015 budget request from the State includes a bargain. The U of M will freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates if the state will provide $14.2 million more a year.
"This is an opportunity for us to have the State step forward and carry part of that load. We will find additional budget savings. If the State doesn't come forward, we will ask students to carry the burden," Kaler said.
Kaler is also proposing that the state withhold $11.5 million dollars in fiscal year 2015, unless the University meets certain requirements like increasing financial aid and awarding more degrees.
"Rather than us coming to St. Paul with a list of things that we'd like to have and sort of rattling our tin cup, we're outlining very, very clearly what the State will get and what our students and families will get for an investment that the State makes," Kaler said.
Representative Bud Nornes, who chairs the House Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee, says the President's plan is a good start.
"I think my entire committee is all for freezing tuition. I think we would probably get 100 percent vote on that if that was just the one issue that we were dealing with," Nornes said.
Right now, the state is enjoying a budget surplus. The Legislature will decide next year how that money will be divided.
"Finding money at the state level or even at the federal level, to be able to do that, just doesn't seem likely unless there is some type of tax increase to finance it," said David Schultz, Professor at Hamline University School of Business.
Kaler's total request is about $1.8 billion, a $91.6 million or 8.4 percent increase over current state funding. The Board of Regents is expected to vote on the proposal in October.