Students at the University of Minnesota will pay an average 13-percent more in tuition and fees in the coming year. The figure is in line with estimates university officials had provided during debate at the Capitol over how much new money to give the U. University President Mark Yudof presented the budget particulars to the Board of Regents.
Professor Fred Morrison, the outgoing chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee, which represents the entire system's 3,000 faculty, says the pay raises coming to faculty are not all they hoped for, but are very welcome.
THE EXPECTED $111 MILLION IN NEW MONEY coming from the state is only about half what the school asked for. To make up the difference, Yudof says that pain will be born by students by "reallocating money internally" and by limiting the plans for growth.
Undergraduate students, who comprise the bulk of university students, will pay 13.5 percent more in tuition and fees for the coming year. The tuition increase makes up most of the increased cost, but the higher payments also include a new fee of $75 per semester. That money will help pay the cost of admissions, the student finance office, the registrar, and university overhead.
For a full-time undergraduate student at the Twin Cities campus, the impact will be an additional $659 a year. It'll be more for students at the Morris campus, but less at Duluth and Crookston.
Yudof told regents the increased cost in tuition and fees could be offset by more generous university-based grants and a new federal tax write-off for parents paying their kids' tuition. "It is mitigated by a very large extent by the changes in federal tax law and by our own willingness to set aside more money for scholarships. The loan situation is not great but it is in the range of acceptable so at least for the first year, I think that it could've been a lot worse," Yudof said.
Tuition increases in professional schools will range from eight to 15-percent. Tracy Street is studying for her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and anticipates a $100,000 debt upon graduation. She says she supports the tuition increase because the U didn't get the state allocation it was looking for. But she says it will have a dramatic impact on professional students like herself.
Students Tracy Street, left, Lakeesha Ransom, center, and Venora Hung, right, are unhappy with the U of M budget and subsequent tuition hikes. "We're paying more, disproportionately paying more, and getting nothing back for it," Street said.
"We don't have any eligibility for grants or scholarships from the university or the federal government. So we're paying more, disproportionately paying more, and getting nothing back for it," she says.
In all, the university expects to raise over $110 million through higher tuition and fees over the next two years, the difference between the new money it requested and the amount approved by the Legislature.
In all, the school will receive over $1 billion from the state over the biennium.
In addition to increasing the cost of an education for students, the budget includes modest increases in growth, though not nearly what university officials had hoped for.
Initiatives include a three-percent across-the-board pay raise for all faculty and staff, a minimum $12-per-hour wage for the lowest-paid university workers, and small merit-based pay increases for university faculty.
Professor Fred Morrison, the outgoing chair of the Faculty Consultative Committee, which represents the entire system's 3,000 faculty, says the pay raises coming to faculty are not all they hoped for, but are very welcome. "One of the university's problems is its non-competitive pay structure when compared to other major universities. This is a step in the right direction; not as much as we would've liked, but it's far better than doing nothing," Morrison said.
Other growth includes $750,000 for nano-technology, a new nursing program at the university's Rochester center, and investment in agricultural outreach and research.