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2011 April 18 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Utah Regents Approve College Tuition Increase

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah’s Board of Regents has approved tuition increases averaging 7.5 percent for the state’s eight public colleges and universities.

A base increase of 5 percent was approved for every institution, with additional increases also approved for nearly every school.

Dixie State College students will see an 11.8 percent increase, the highest of any school for 2011-12 term. The increase amounts to $348 and raises yearly tuition for students taking 15 credits each semester to just under $3,300.

Salt Lake Community College students see the smallest increase — just 5 percent, or $120. That increases tuition to $2,640 for the year.

The increases come as state support for colleges and universities has been in steady decline. State lawmakers have cut higher education funding in each of the last three fiscal years.

“Since 2008, Utah’s colleges and universities have faced yearly budget cuts now totaling roughly 14 percent,” Commissioner of Higher Education William Sederburg said in a statement. “For years our institutions have had to consistently do more with less, now in order to protect access and quality it is necessary that some of the costs will have to be passed along to students in the form of higher tuition.”

Tuition increases could have been higher, Sederburg said. Lawmakers initially had proposed a 7 percent cut in higher education funding for the fiscal year that begins July 1, but instead cut funding just 2.5 percent.

Students expressed outrage at the news.

“Legislators may not remember what it’s like to struggle to pay for tuition, but this will really hurt us at a time when grants and scholarships are more competitive than ever,” said Mohammad Allam, 20, a sophomore at the University of Utah.

“We go to college to earn more money, but in the process, it’s a challenge to balance work and school,” added Kourtney Mather, 20, a public relations major at the university. “We are already struggling to pay tuition, but this increase will just make it that much harder.”

Tuition rates at Utah colleges and universities are set in two steps. Regents set the so-called Tier I rates, which cover the common institutional needs. Individual institutions set Tier II rates based on needs specific to their campus needs and initiatives. Second tier rates must be approved by the board and are submitted as “recommendations”from institution presidents in consultation with boards of trustees and students.

With the increases the cost of attending the University of Utah, the state’s flagship school, will rise to $5,850 annually. That’s a 7.8 percent tuition increase over the current school year.

Other increases include a 6 percent hike at Weber State University, 7 percent increase at Snow College and a 7.4 percent increase for students at Utah Valley University.

At Utah State University and its affiliate, CEU-USU, students will pay 9 percent more in tuition and costs will increase 11 percent for students enrolled at Southern Utah University.

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