University budget amendments a boon for studentsby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — Planned amendments to the University of Minnesota budget will give more financial aid to needy students in the spring and lower tuition increases for all students next year.
The university planned for large cuts to its in-state aid this summer. However, when the governor and lawmakers agreed on a state budget, the university ended up with about $25 million dollars more than anticipated in each of the next two years.
Now U of M President Eric Kaler is laying out plans for that money to the university's budget. The Board of Regents will vote on the amendments on Friday.
Among them is a proposal to spend $4.5 million dollars on one-time scholarships of $310 for the school's neediest students next spring. About 13,400 students would get the financial aid.
Also, $6 million will go to graduate student fellowships, and $4 million will be spent on new faculty hires.
Kaler proposes spending $8.3 million dollars next year to reduce an anticipated 5 percent tuition increase to 3.5 percent.
Kaler's amended budget outlines the following spending in fiscal year 2012:
One-time allocations: $10.75 million
• $4.15 million for one-time scholarships for 13,400 low- and middle-income Minnesota undergraduate students eligible for U Promise program during spring semester 2012.
• $6 million over three years to support Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships. The fellowships recognize high-quality dissertation research and scholarly work and support timely degree completion.
• $350,000 for a network upgrade on the Morris campus.
• $250,000 additional academic investment on the Crookston campus.
Annual allocations: $8.15 million
• $4 million for new faculty hires, particularly in the STEM fields, the Carlson School of Management and the College of Liberal Arts. This will restore about 20 of the more than 50 faculty lines that are open as a result of budget reductions over the past few years.
• $3.05 million to mitigate impacts of state cuts in the Medical Education & Research Costs (MERC) program, of which $150,000 will be used to restore the Foreign Trainee program within the U's Medical School. The program helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota.
• $800,000 to restore state cuts and support the College of Veterinary Medicine's Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.
• $150,000 to restore state cuts and support the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. This will give about 100 more students access to undergraduate research opportunities. Overall, this program benefits 900 students annually.
• $150,000 to adjust budget reductions in the College of Pharmacy.
These annual and one-time improvements in fiscal year 2012 amount to $18.9 million. The remaining $6.1 million will be reserved for unforeseen state reductions or additional investments in fiscal year 2013. In 2013 there will also be an additional $8.5 million available for strategic investments.
For more information about the president's recommended amendments to the operating budget, see the September meeting docket materials on the Board of Regents website.