RE­GENT: ‘WE NEED TO IM­PORT SOME TAL­ENT’

Star Tribune - - * TU­ITION IN­CLUDES THE UNI­VER­SITY FEE ’07- ’08 ’08 - Mila.koumpilova@star­tri­bune.com 612-673-4781

en­roll­ments dropped. For this fall, ap­pli­ca­tions were down, and the uni­ver­sity made a spring re­cruit­ment push sweet­ened with ad­di­tional schol­ar­ships to off­set that, even as it raised non­res­i­dent tu­ition by 12.5 per­cent.

“We best be care­ful be­cause at some point in time, we’ll say, ‘Where did [the out-of-state stu­dents] go? What hap­pened with them?’ ” said Re­gent Dean John­son.

The pro­posed hike would raise the non­res­i­dent tu­ition and fees next fall to $28,730 as part of a two-year plan that would even­tu­ally bring the tab to about $35,000. Re­gents are slated to take ac­tion on the plan in De­cem­ber.

Kaler has not yet spelled out his rec­om­men­da­tion for res­i­dent tu­ition next aca­demic year, but he said he wanted to set non­res­i­dent tu­ition sooner than usual so those fam­i­lies can plan ahead.

Does dis­count cheapen U?

Sup­port­ers of in­creas­ing non­res­i­dent tu­ition at the U have ar­gued for years that those rates need to be brought closer in line with tu­ition for Min­nesota stu­dents. They say the low rank­ing in com­par­i­son with other Big Ten schools send a mes­sage that cheap­ens the value of ed­u­ca­tion at the U.

On Thurs­day, U Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent Brian Bur­nett called the dis­par­ity “an eq­uity chal­lenge and a chal­lenge for us po­lit­i­cally as well.”

Kaler voiced con­fi­dence that the U’s qual­ity will con­tinue to at­tract stu­dents from across the coun­try. The Leg­is­la­ture ap­proved $54.6 mil­lion in new fund­ing for the U over the next two years this spring, far short of the uni­ver­sity’s re­quest, and that made the in­crease nec­es­sary, Kaler said.

Non­res­i­dent sopho­mores and ju­niors would see a tu­ition in­crease of no more than 5.5 per­cent. But the U made no such prom­ise to this fall’s fresh­man class, and of­fi­cials 20,000 10,000

said they would have to de­cide whether the full in­crease would ap­ply to them.

Last spring, the U also in­creased tu­ition for Min­nesota stu­dents by 2 per­cent, to $12,800 a year on the Twin Cities cam­pus. But in re­cent years, those rates have re­mained much more sta­ble. Mean­while, since the non­res­i­dent cut con­ceived in 2007 was fully phased in dur­ing the 2011-12 aca­demic year, the rate for outof-state stu­dents has grown by 50 per­cent.

The uni­ver­sity es­ti­mates the pro­posed 15 per­cent in­crease will bring in $10 mil­lion more in rev­enue. Of­fi­cials said they

ten­ta­tively plan to spend $1.5 mil­lion of it to boost out-of­s­tate re­cruit­ing.

A num­ber of re­gents said they have some con­cerns about the pro­posal though none sig­naled out­right op­po­si­tion. They said out-of-state stu­dents in­crease diver­sity on cam­pus and bring per­spec­tives that en­rich the ex­pe­ri­ence of Min­nesota stu­dents. Oth­ers said that with a loom­ing short­age of work­ers in the state, the U plays a key role in at­tract­ing young peo­ple who will stick around.

“We need to im­port some tal­ent,” said Re­gent David McMil­lan. “As we raise that price, we need to watch that we are not af­fect­ing that in­put.”

In con­trast, Re­gent Dar­rin Rosha said he would have been com­fort­able with the full 30 per­cent jump for next fall.

“I wouldn’t be tak­ing this po­si­tion if I thought there would be a cat­a­clysmic drop in stu­dents from other ar­eas,” he said, adding, “This rate does af­fect the way the world per­ceives our qual­ity.”

He ar­gued the U needs to fo­cus on re­cruit­ing un­der­rep­re­sented stu­dents from Min­nesota rather than count­ing on other states for diver­sity.

Stu­dents have qualms

Apoorva Malar­van­nan, a stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the board, said she was “deeply un­com­fort­able” with the pro­posed in­crease. For non­res­i­dent stu­dents she spoke with, af­ford­able tu­ition was a ma­jor fac­tor in draw­ing them to the U.

Max Hurst, a ju­nior from Aurora, Ill., and leader with the Min­nesota Stu­dent As­so­ci­a­tion, echoed that sen­ti­ment. He said the uni­ver­sity wasn’t on his radar un­til he re­ceived an ap­pli­ca­tion in the mail. He didn’t be­gin to se­ri­ously con­sider the school un­til after he was ac­cepted and started com­par­ing the price of at­tend­ing to that at other col­leges.

A po­lit­i­cal science ma­jor, Hurst said he now plans to stay in Min­nesota after grad­u­a­tion, thanks to con­nec­tions he made on cam­pus and an in­tern­ship at the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

“The Uni­ver­sity of Min­nesota is a great in­sti­tu­tion,” he said. “But it’s not as well­known and its brand doesn’t carry as far as the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the re­gents be­lieve.”

Ge­orge Ab­dal­lah, a sopho­more from Or­ange County, Calif., said even the prospect of the smaller, 5.5 per­cent in­crease for up­per­class­men next year has led him to de­cide to skip planned trips home for Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas and save the money. He said the an­nual tu­ition in­creases for out-of-state stu­dents un­der­cut the uni­ver­sity lead­er­ship’s state­ments that they want to make the U more di­verse.

“You come here to Min­nesota, and you try to be a part of this com­mu­nity,” he said. “But right away they say, ‘Sorry, you are dif­fer­ent. You have to pay more.’ ”

Amal Mo­hamed, a ju­nior from St. Paul ma­jor­ing in mi­cro­bi­ol­ogy, says she un­der­stands that the idea be­hind in­creas­ing non­res­i­dent tu­ition is to ward off painful tu­ition in­creases for lo­cal stu­dents like her. But she says that without a clear break­down of how the ex­tra rev­enue will be spent to ben­e­fit stu­dents, that ra­tio­nale can seem a bit ab­stract.

“It’s nice for us, I guess,” she said. “But I worry it will hin­der a lot of out-of-state stu­dents from com­ing. That’s what draws a lot of stu­dents to the U — that we are on the lower end.”

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