MINNEAPOLIS- While the Minnesota state budget gives higher education a spending increase of $210 million, students may still be forced to pay higher tuition over the next two years.
“We will be looking at some programmatic cuts and/or very modest tuition increases as we go forward[….] Overall it’s an outcome for us that’s positive, but not quite what we needed,” UMN President Eric Kaler told WCCO Radio.
That being said, Sen. Michelle Fischbach (R-Paynesville) in an interview with MPR stated that the decision to raise tuition is not that of the state legislature, but the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.
“We are not raising tuition, we cannot raise tuition,” Fischbach told MPR, “The Board of Regents will have to make that decision by themselves and we are not allowed to influence them.”
It would appear that the Board of Regents has yet to come to full decision though on how the budget will affect the university. In response to a Alpha News inquiry, Emmalynn Bauer, a representative of the University of Minnesota responded that, “The University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents will not review the University’s budget for the coming year until the Legislature finishes their session and the Governor has signed their legislation.”
Furthermore, with the bonding bill not yet passed, the university said that they are unable to comment on whether or not building projects on campus would be largely affected by the budget.
The breakdown for higher education funding is $54.6 million for the University of Minnesota system, $106.3 million for the Minnesota State system, and $49 million for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
In terms of student aid, the bill directly budgets for $350,000 to help students struggling to pay for rent or food. There will also be a $36 million dollar increase to grant programs which provide for students coming from households making less than $80,000.
While the state legislature is not able to decide the tuition for the University of Minnesota system, they are allowed to determine the Minnesota State school tuition rates. This year’s bill freezes tuition rates for 2018-2019, and for two year institutions caps the tuition hike at a one percent increase. At four year state institutions no tuition caps exist.
Joe Wolf, outgoing President of Students United, a Minnesota student advocacy group, predicted in a recent interview with MPR that tuition would increase by three percent.