UPDATE: U of M Board of Regents votes to freeze tuition for 2020

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The University of Minnesota Board of Regents voted to freeze tuition, for the vast majority of students, for the upcoming academic year.

The board met virtually Tuesday to review the university's COVID-19 response plan and discuss the upcoming freshmen enrollment.

University leaders told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they're being forced to make changes to manage a financial hit from the pandemic. The school could be facing a loss in revenue of $315 million or more.

Steps have been made to address the revenue loss – President Joan Gabel discussed a tuition and hiring freeze, as well as a 10% pay-cut for her and her cabinet.

A big, unplanned, decision happened when the board moved to approve the tuition freeze that was only planned to be discussed. A couple of big reasons for it include easing the burden on students, who are also dealing with the pandemic, and enticing future students.

It was unanimously passed.

The tuition freeze won't apply to the Dentistry and Medical Schools or three Professional Masters in the College of Science and Engineering at the Twin Cities campus, according to the agenda.

Students who are still scattered around campus welcomed the news.

"A lot of people are really struggling, especially students who are supporting themselves. It's kind of nice to have that lifted for a bit," said junior Carly Zimmerman.

"I'm taking out loans to pay for my education, so personally I'm not adding to my debt.  I can't find a job anywhere, so it's helpful," said sophomore Daniel Riberio.

Another decision made Tuesday created two different working groups to help the university make decisions that will allow it to function well during the pandemic. One group's focus will be on academics and research, the other will be on finance and operations at the university – the vote was unanimously passed.

The board says the academic group will focus on, "sustaining the University's mission and will examine academic and research strategies for the University to thrive." There was a question raised about whether the quality of the students' learning will be addressed. Gabel added that it will be the main focus of the group.

Regarding its finances, the board says the second group will, "examine strategies for operational and personnel cost savings and efficiencies, with an emphasis on maintaining employees in recognition of everyone's value and contribution to the enterprise."

Also discussed was the upcoming 2020 fall semester – specifically what 'kind' of learning will be done and freshmen enrollment.

The university has decided to move all summer classes online, but those two working-groups will help decide what to do in the fall.

"Is it a hybrid, is it totally online? I have my own views where we might want to land," Kendall Powell, Chairperson of the Board of Regents said. "I think the board will start to feel much better as we really 'wrestle to the ground' exactly what it's going to look like."

In regards to the enrollment numbers, university leaders report numbers down about 10%. One way they're addressing the decline is looking closer at potential students who are on waiting lists.

This is a breaking news update. The previous KSTP story goes as follows.

The University of Minnesota's Board of Regents will meet Tuesday to review the school's COVID-19 response plan and discuss freshman enrollment.

University leaders told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they're being forced to make changes to manage a financial hit from the pandemic.

The school could be looking at $315 million or more in lost revenue.

University President Joan Gabel is suggesting a tuition freeze. There are also plans for a hiring freeze and salary cuts, according to an agenda document for Tuesday's meeting.

Stay with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com for updates following the meeting.