University of Nebraska proposes lowest tuition increase since 1997
Tuition rates are part of the proposed 2012-13 operating budget announced today by President James B. Milliken. The Board of Regents will consider the budget on June 8.
“Affordable access is the University of Nebraska’s highest priority,” Milliken said. “At a time when a college education is increasingly recognized as the wisest investment individuals can make in their future, it is critical for the university to remain accessible for all Nebraskans. The budget I am proposing achieves that objective.”
Milliken noted that the proposed budget also includes a 3.75 percent increase in need-based financial aid, ensuring that the students with the highest need are not impacted by the tuition increase. The university also will continue to seek private support for student aid. The ongoing Campaign for Nebraska, for example, has so far raised $189 million for student support.
For most resident undergraduates taking 15 credit hours per semester, the tuition increase would amount to about $94 to $116 more per semester, depending on which campus the student attends.
“The University of Nebraska continues to be a tremendous value compared to similar institutions,” Milliken said. “This year’s modest increase would keep us well below the average costs of our peers.” He added that students on each NU campus who take out loans graduate with significantly less debt than students at peer institutions.
Only two sources of revenue are available to fund NU’s general operations: state appropriations and tuition revenue. Milliken said the university has done its part in keeping costs down, with tuition increases averaging less than 5.5 percent over the past seven years, compared to the 7 percent national average for public four-year institutions. He credited the Governor and Legislature for making higher education a priority in recent years – and providing valuable support for initiatives such as Building a Healthier Nebraska and Innovation Campus – but noted that state support for university operations has been essentially flat for five consecutive years. Milliken said that is not a sustainable model if the university is to ensure moderate and predictable tuition increases while also investing in strategic priorities such as compensation for top talent, financial aid, and outstanding academic programs.
The proposed 2012-13 budget includes an increase of up to 2.5 percent in the salary pool for faculty and staff outside the faculty collective bargaining units at the Omaha and Kearney campuses. The funds are to be distributed on the basis of merit and performance. Faculty salaries at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Medical Center continue to be behind the peer averages.
Other elements of the budget include:
- Differentiated tuition rates for the College of Architecture at UNL. The rates would add $52 per credit hour for resident undergraduates and $69 per credit hour for resident graduate students. The additional revenue, estimated at $435,000, would help cover higher instructional costs, technology, additional advisory and student services and other expenses. Even with the differential, UNL architecture costs would still rank at or near the bottom of its peer group. For example, tuition for resident undergraduates would remain the lowest among Big Ten institutions with architecture colleges.
- A $1 million investment in Programs of Excellence, which are high-priority academic areas across the university.
- A $2.2 million shortfall for 2012-13. This comes on top of $74 million in budget reallocations since 2000.
With Board approval, the university also will submit two capital projects for funding consideration:
- A new College of Nursing facility in Lincoln, the university’s highest capital priority in the Legislature for the past two biennia and the one component of the Building a Healthier Nebraska initiative that did not receive state support earlier this year. The new facility is estimated to cost $17 million.
- Renovation of the military property on Military Avenue that was recently acquired by UNL. This would allow the university to consolidate its computing staff in one location. The project would free up space at Nebraska Hall, where some computing staff currently are based, for UNL research labs and classrooms.