Regents predict 4 percent base tuition increase

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Students will likely see tuition go up again next year, following an annual trend of increasing education costs nationwide.

The Utah Board of Regents passed a recommendation to the Utah State Legislature last week asking for a 4 percent tuition increase to cover compensation raises in Utah public colleges and universities. The final increase will not be determined until after the Utah Legislative session ends in the spring and the U determines how much it needs for projects and costs.

This is the first of two tuition increases the regents will approve this year. The first tier is based on a legislature-approved compensation plan in which students and taxpayers split the costs for faculty and staff salaries — the state pays 75 percent and universities use tuition revenue to pay the remaining quarter. The second and final amount will depend on how much the U receives from state funds.

Last year, tuition increased by about 7 percent for the U, although the first-tier raise was 4 percent.

The Regents created a list of options to share with the Legislature based on estimates of how much will be allocated for university salaries. Regents spokeswoman Amanda Covington and U administrators said the 4 percent increase is the most likely though.

“It’s very unlikely they’ll give a higher amount, but anything is possible,” said Paul Brinkman, associate vice president for budget and planning. “It’s a hypothetical discussion that will be put into budget requests.”

Although each school has a different projected increase for tuition to cover the compensation package, the Regents recommend the highest percentage increase based on individual numbers and enrollment, to ensure that each school’s needs are met.

Because the U’s projected increase, 2.76 percent, is lower than the 4 percent total, Brinkman said the U might be able to use the tuition revenue for things other than salaries and not have as many second-tier costs, bringing the total increase down.

The constant increase is worrying students and administrators alike.

“No one is too happy,” Brinkman said. “Congress is not happy. There’s a pressure to hold it down.”

This school year, the national increase for tuition and fees was 6.6 percent, but for Utah schools the increase was almost 7 percent.

Madeline Folke, a freshman in chemistry, said she wishes the U would release specific reasons for the increase to students.

“College is ridiculously overpriced everywhere and it’s continually going up,” Folke said. “I’d like to see why.”

Brenden Oliva, a junior studying anthropology, said the yearly increase is natural and not too worrisome.

“It sounds fair, with inflation, minimum wage going up and everything going up,” Oliva said. “It’s just following the trend. If it was spiking, I’d be more concerned.”

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