U of M President highlights need for state investment in order to freeze tuition

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler today expressed concern about the House budget target for FY 2016-17 and whether it will be sufficient to hold tuition flat for the system’s 53,000 resident students over the next two years.

House Republicans proposed an increase of $103.2 million over the biennium for higher education, compared to a proposed $288.3 million increase by Gov. Dayton.

“Our top priority this session has been tuition affordability for our students and their families,” Kaler said, “In order to accomplish that shared goal, we need strong partnership from the Legislature. Funding is limited, but I will continue to advocate strongly for University of Minnesota students and their families.”

The University is requesting an increase of $148.2 million for four priority areas over the next two years, with $65.2 million for tuition affordability at the top of the list. The investment would allow the U to freeze tuition for Minnesota undergraduate, graduate and professional students—approximately 53,000 students across all five campuses.

The three additional areas of the U’s budget request include:

• $55.5 million for Healthy Minnesota and the Medical School, to strengthen health care delivery in the state, address workforce shortages and strengthen U research to address the most pressing health care needs. The initiative would also expand education and training programs in dentistry, mental health and geriatrics—particularly in Greater Minnesota and underserved communities. The medical school investment includes Gov. Dayton’s plan to help recruit and hire 50 top tenure track faculty medical researchers over the next eight years, creating medical discovery teams. The plan would also help secure new research grants from funding agencies.

• $15 million for the Facility Condition Improvement Strategy, which creates a more predictable funding stream to maintain the U’s 29 million square feet of infrastructure. In exchange for this general fund allocation, the U would decrease its Higher Education Asset Preservation and Restoration (HEAPR) capital request.

• $12.5 million for Vibrant Communities, to improve the environmental health and safety impacts of mining and examine related economic development opportunities, and promote economic prosperity in Minnesota communities.

“We will continue to make our case to the policymakers in St. Paul over the coming weeks,” Kaler said. “We look forward to continued conversations with legislative leaders.”

If fully funded ($704.6 million) by 2017, the U of M’s request would get the institution back to slightly above the level the state provided in 2008 ($684.4 million), without adjusting for inflation.

For more information on the U’s 2015 legislative request, visit govrelations.umn.edu.

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