Starting summer semester, U tuition will increase by 3.9%, as approved by the Utah State Board of Regents.
Melanie Heath, Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) director of communications, said the increase is the second lowest in 17 years, since the tuition raise of 1999. Heath said the lowest year was last year.
“I like this trend we’re on,” said Heath.
The Board of Regents, governed by the USHE, annually approves a raise in tuition. For all eight public colleges and universities in USHE, the board sets a general statewide increase, categorized as tier one. Individual universities and colleges can then apply to get additional tier two increases approved on top of the tier one raise.
This year, the tier one increase has been set at 3.5%. In addition, the U has set a .4% increase for a total 3.9% raise in tuition.
For a student currently taking 15 credits, this means an added $139 per semester.
Six other USHE institutions have not added a tier two increase, and Dixie State University has attached a tier two increase of 1.5%. The statewide average tuition increase in Utah is 3.7%
Cathy Anderson, U associate vice president of budget and planning, said the U is adding the .4% tier two raise because of identified needs to improve student success programs.
Anderson said the tier two money will go towards programs like funding student advisors, teaching assistants, and improving graduation rates. She said that, for example, while the U has good retention rates for freshman and sophomores, there is not as much success with junior and senior students.
“While we identified these holes in student success, we are also cognizant of the need to keep tuition affordable for students,” said Anderson, “We understand it’s a delicate balance.”
The process of getting the tier two increase approved included holding an informational and student input session, an event called “Truth in Tuition,” which the U holds every year. Anderson said this year’s event, held on March 9, was only “ok attended”.
While the statewide tier one increase is meant to help counter inflation, Heath said it is also directly correlated to the amount of funding for public universities and colleges given by the state. Historically, Heath said, the Utah legislature used to provide 70 to 75% of the money needed to fund the education of one student, while tuition would cover the extra 20 to 25%. However, in the post-recession economy, the ratio has gone down to approximately 50% funded by the state, and 50% by tuition costs.
However, Heath said this reduced ratio is markedly better than most states in the nation. Many, she said, especially those located on the east coast, have seen state support for educating a student reduced to 20%, while the university’s tuition costs must cover the remaining 80%.
“We’re very dependant on our legislature,” said Heath.