State residents enrolled at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus will see their yearly tuition increase by about $500 after the Board of Regents approved the school’s largest price hike in a decade.
The board voted 11-1 Friday to approve President Joan Gabel’s fiscal year 2023 budget, which raises tuition by 3.5% at the U’s Twin Cities and Rochester campuses and 1.75% at the Duluth, Morris and Crookston campuses. The near-unanimous vote came amid pushback from students and after some regents had previously expressed concerns about raising tuition.
U leaders have noted the price increases are well below the current 8.5% inflation rate, and that tuition went up just 1.5% last year and was frozen the year before that.
“None of us are thrilled with the tuition increase at 3.5%,” Board of Regents Chairman Ken Powell said during a committee meeting Thursday. “I thought it might be more, so I think the fact that we landed there, well below inflation … I can live with that.”
The Twin Cities tuition hike is the largest for state residents since the 2012-2013 academic year. At that campus, it amounts to a $474 increase for state resident undergraduate students and a $1,124 increase for nonresidents, bringing the annual resident tuition to $14,000 and the nonresident price to about $33,250.
Tuition will go up $432 for all undergraduates attending the Rochester campus, while increases at the Duluth, Morris and Crookston campuses will range from $190 to $310 for undergraduates.
Graduate students at all five campuses will see their tuition rise 3.5%.
Students living in campus dormitories will also pay more as Gabel’s budget includes room and board rate increases ranging from nearly 3% at the Rochester campus to 8% at the Duluth campus. Annual room and board prices will increase $690 in Duluth, $540 in the Twin Cities, $458 in Morris, $353 in Crookston and $324 in Rochester.
Gabel’s budget also includes merit-based salary increases of 3.85% for U employees, which administrators said is the highest compensation increase in more than a decade. The tuition and housing rate increases are helping pay for that and investments in campus infrastructure and core operations.
Students, alumni and community members who submitted written comments about Gabel’s budget to the Board of Regents overwhelmingly opposed the tuition increase. But no part of the budget was changed in response to the feedback they submitted weeks before Friday’s meeting.
“If anyone in administration actually cares about the people who are working for the U and paying to be educated at the U, then tuition will not rise and workers will be paid fair,” U student Michael McCune said in his written comment to the board.
Flora Yang, a student representative on the Board of Regents, said she was disappointed that tuition and room and board rates were going up while student worker wages have hardly risen.
“While students know that this operating budget will be voted on today and will most likely pass, we are anticipating the moment when students, as one of the main stakeholders at the university, have our needs and well-being prioritized as well,” Yang said.
Regent Darrin Rosha, the lone board member to vote against Gabel’s budget, offered an amendment during the Thursday committee hearing to freeze tuition for resident students at all five campuses. It failed 9-3, with only Rosha and Regents James Farnsworth and Mike Kenyanya voting in favor.
Rosha noted the U’s tuition for in-state students is more expensive than competing universities in surrounding states, and that gap is growing.
“I can’t support a budget that provides an increase when we’re already this far out of line,” Rosha said, noting the continued tuition increases are “leaving a lot of students with a lot of debt.”
Regent Steve Sviggum, vice chairman of the board, took issue with Rosha’s amendment and said a tuition freeze would necessitate cuts elsewhere, such as to core services or employee raises.
“I was hoping that this amendment would not be offered to the budget that President Gabel has brought together in a very thoughtful and a very balanced way,” Sviggum said. “This motion should pass unanimously.”