U of M Rochester students may be paying more in tuition next year

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(ABC 6 News) – Despite the University of Minnesota receiving $223 million dollars from the legislature in this year’s session, U of M officials are proposing tuition increases for students.

The university is proposing a 3.5 percent tuition hike in for campuses in the Twin Cities and Rochester and a 1 percent tuition increase from Crookston, Morris and Duluth.

The proposed budget anticipates this will add $23.5 million over last year’s total.

In speaking with an official with the U’s Public Relations team, they said tuition increases are needed for a number of reasons, not only due to some of the unique enrollment-driven tuition impacts officials saw this year, which were unlike any they’d previously experienced and primarily resulted from fewer transfer and returning students, as interest for students coming out of high school remains high. Other factors contribute to the need for these increases, such as the continued inflationary pressures driving up costs across the University. 

Enrollment is down at University of Minnesota campuses in Crookston, Morris and Duluth, which are all declining in the double digits over the past decade. Enrollment at the Duluth campus is down nearly 45 percent.

The only schools where enrollment is up is the Twin Cities and Rochester. The Twin Cities enrollment has increased by 1 percent over the past ten years, while UMR saw the most growth at nearly 29.3 percent.

DFL Rep. Gene Pelowski of Winona, the chair of the Minnesota House Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee says that UMN officials miscalculated the effect that declining enrollment has had on its finances.

In January, the university system asked for $205 million to help pay for lost revenue. However, a few months later in March, it asked for nearly $97.5 million more.

Lawmakers like Rep. Pelowski says not only was the request made at the last second, but that the legislature simply could not afford the high price. The legislature ended up allocating $223 million to the UMN from the historic +$17 billion dollar surplus.

“Under questioning in committee they really had no explanation other then suddenly, they decided that declining enrollment was a problem,” Rep. Pelowski explained. “The problem with the university was when I requested enrollment by campus data, it took them three attempts to get it to us in a form that we would be able to understand it.”

University officials in the budget discussion say that while the funding approved by the state was appreciated, the U of M ultimately received about 39% of the needed funding increases they requested.

Rep. Pelowski says that the University deciding to raise tuition now is a mistake and will only further hurt future enrollment.

College students in Rochester agree.

“I think when I started school it was very stressful. I didn’t pay much at all for tuition because I had an academic scholarship, but just the stress of maintaining that so I didn’t have to pay was very hard,” Braden Cook explained.

University officials in a press release says the rate hike is heavily due to inflation and not getting all the funding it requested from lawmakers.

There is an open discussion period that community members can give their thoughts on the budget until open until June 20th.

The Board of Regents meets June 26th to vote on the budget.