MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The University of Minnesota Board of Regents will survey the financial future of the university this week as it considers how to do more with less in its next budget.
President Robert Bruininks says he’s planning for the worst case scenario — a possible government shutdown and a nearly $71 million cut in state funding for the coming year. The Republican-led Legislature reduced university funding in a budget that was vetoed by DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
Bruininks says he has proposed an overall tuition increase of 5 percent for most resident undergraduate students, with an 8.2 percent increase for out-of-state undergrads. Graduate students could see increases ranging from more than 3 to nearly 9 percent depending on their field — pharmacy, law, dentistry or medicine.
“It’s hurtful to students,” said junior Andy Osborne. “It just makes it more and more stressful with $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 in debt. If we are going to look at raising the costs on students, we should also share the sacrifice of the administrators of the university as well.”
Bruininks stresses a tuition increase is only one third of the solution, with university employees taking a bigger hit.
“We took a $193 million budget cut in the past two years,” said Bruininks. “We kept these increases at a very modest level and we have done so by asking our employees to pay an incredible price. They will have had two pay freezes and one year where I asked them to give money back to the University of Minnesota — they will have had benefits cut, work harder with reductions at the local level.”
U of M junior Katie Cowan is spending the summer working at Five Guys burgers in Dinkytown, to help her parents cover the expenses of three college-age kids in her family.
She says she’ll spend more hours working to cover rising costs if it is an investment in her future.
“Everything is kind of happening at once and I know a lot of my friends, it’s difficult for them too, taking out loans, a lot to handle on top of school and working,” said Cowan. “Definitely not glamorous — but it’s worth it, definitely worth it.”
Bruininks will make his budget recommendations to the Board of Regents Friday, and the Board will vote on the plan June 20.
“Back to back $100 million a year reduction in state support will weaken us on long haul,” said Bruininks, who says even in his last month as University President, he’s up for a fight.