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University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

U budget eases burden on students

May 11, 2012

Students and a teacher in a classroom.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 will hold tuition increases to 3.5 percent for Minnesota undergraduates.

Photo: Patrick O'Leary

By Rick Moore

There’s good news in the air for University of Minnesota students, and it’s not just the end of finals week. Next year’s tuition increase will be the smallest of the 21st century at the U, and students with the greatest need will receive additional assistance.

The relatively glad tidings for tuition are part of President Eric Kaler’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, presented to the Board of Regents Friday morning. The budget will hold tuition increases to 3.5 percent for Minnesota undergraduates, following 11 years of increases ranging from 4.5 to 16 percent.

In addition, the modest tuition increase will be offset by an additional $2.3 million in need-based aid, gained by restructuring the Promise Scholarship program. This will result in a 14 percent increase in the scholarships, which are awarded to students with low family incomes. For approximately 11,000 students, this will reduce the impact of the tuition increase, and 2,000 students will see no increase at all. The budget also calls for an additional $2.8 million for merit-based aid to attract top students from Minnesota and the region.

The proposal also invests heavily in the University’s faculty and staff in an ongoing effort to bolster excellence in education and research.

"This budget represents my priorities, which are to keep tuition as low as possible—while boosting financial aid for our students—and to keep administrative costs low as we strategically invest in faculty and staff so that we maintain our academic excellence,” Kaler says.

For students, it’s an extra measure of relief following more than a decade of significant tuition hikes. While tuition increases haven’t exceeded 7.5 percent over the past seven years, they were preceded by four consecutive years of double-digit percentage increases. (See graphic below.)

"It is still an increase, but I guess that's expected," says John Huss, a junior in mechanical engineering. "The fact that it's a lower increase is a good thing. For me personally it doesn't make a huge impact; I'm here mostly on scholarships. But I can imagine that for some people it would."

The investments in faculty and staff include $34 million in new academic program investments, as well as a 2.5 percent compensation pool increase—following three years of wage freezes, furloughs, and increased health care costs.

The Board of Regents is taking public comments on the budget early Friday afternoon, and will act on the proposal at its June 8 meeting.

Read more about President Kaler’s proposed FY13 budget.

View the presentation to the Board of Regents.

A graphic showing scholarship investments to offset the proposed 3.5 percent tuition increase, and a graphic showing tuition increases at the U over the last 12 years.

Tags: All administrative: President, Provost, etc.