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U Proposes Tuition Freeze; Asks State For More Money

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some Minnesota college students might get a break on their next tuition bill, but there’s a big catch.

The University of Minnesota’s President wants the state to pitch in more money.

His new plan, presented to the Board of Regents on Friday morning, calls for a 0 percent tuition hike for all campuses.

Instead, the state would foot the bill, funding the university an extra $14.2 million each of the next two years.

“We hear all the time about the burden that our students carry, so as we began to consider how to put together this budget request, that was really top of mind,” said Eric Kaler, University of Minnesota President.

Students say it would definitely be helpful financially. But Kaler’s plan to save them money might not be realistic, when you consider the budget battles, state deficits and even the recent state shutdown.

Yet one Republican state representative is staying optimistic.

“I would like to see a way that we can at least do something positive for higher education in this next session,” said Bud Nornes, Chair of the Higher Education Policy and Finance Committee. “How big it would be, I don’t know. But rather than continuing to cut, it would be nice to reverse that just slightly.”

Said Kaler: “The university took more than its fair share of cuts in the past three years, certainly for three budget cycles, so the opportunity to reinvest in the university is a good one.”

In-state tuition at the U tops $12,000 per year, and that only covers classes. Undergraduate students could end up saving $2,565 dollars after four years, if Kaler’s plan is fully approved.

“I would love to not have an increase,” said student Michael Zenker. “Got to find that balance. I mean if it goes up much more, I’m literally not going to be able to come here. It’s just not going to happen.”

Zenker’s pursuing a civil engineering degree.

“It’s a lot of money,” he said. “I just checked my tuition bill for this year, and it’s a little over $6,800.”

Freezing tuition would take away some of financial stress he’s experiencing, but certainly not take away the stress of school.

The Board of Regents plans to vote on the plan next month.

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