Nearly 10 percent tuition hike possible at U of M next fallby Art Hughes, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The University of Minnesota's tuition increase would approach double digits next fall if the state budget is adopted with the governor's recommended cuts.
Tuition would go up 9.5 percent under one of three scenarios released today in President Robert Bruininks university budget proposal. The other two scenarios maintain the tuition increase of 7.5 percent--which is the number mapped out a year ago after the legislative budget session.
Gov. Pawlenty's proposed four percent cut is $27 million less than what the university was planning on.
"The bulk of the solution to a $27 million cut will come through internal budget cuts at the university and delaying investments that we had hoped to make in a variety of academic programs--we will have to trim those back." Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter says.
The university has a program in place to reduce the tuition increase by two percent for middle income students. Pfutzenreuter notes the program probably wouldn't apply if the university had to absorb the $27 million reduction.
Pawlenty proposed the cuts to the university, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, and state departments as a way to fill a $935 million budget deficit.
The House and Senate are considering lesser cuts to the university of $5 million to $10 million. Under those scenarios, Bruininks' budget would not add to the scheduled 7.5 percent tuition hike. However it would require internal cuts and possibly job reductions.
"We were...hoping to make investments in new honors programs and writing initiatives and hiring a new chair in genetics and cell biology, making investments in medical devices and nanotechnology and a new center for science technology," Pfutzenreuter said.
In addition to the budget cuts, the university is also proposing an early retirement incentive program for faculty and staff. It's projected that six percent of staff take the retirement option. If so, the university could save as much as $50-million.
"The Governor...did recommend they dip into the state's budget reserves and that's one-time money for what appears to be a recurring state budget shortfall," Pfutzenreuter said.
The retirement incentive is the university's effort to head off what Pfutzenreuter believes will be additional state budget problems down the road.