MnSCU to ask state for $177 million increase over next two years

Posted: November 15, 2006

Contact: Doug Anderson, doug.anderson@so.mnscu.edu, 651-201-1426

Request includes initiatives for student access and success, academic innovation, technology

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees today approved a legislative budget request that seeks a $177 million increase for the 2008-2009 biennium and limits annual tuition increases to an average of no more than 4 percent across the system in each of the next two years.

"This request is tightly focused on initiatives that will build a stronger workforce and help the state of Minnesota stay competitive," Chancellor James H. McCormick said. "We are asking the state to invest in initiatives to expand recruitment and retention of students traditionally underserved in higher education; support academic excellence and innovation, especially in the areas of science and math; and make crucial technology updates."

The board also approved a supplemental capital request of $33.8 million that includes $30 million for repair and replacement projects at the colleges and universities, and $3.8 million for acquisition of properties adjacent to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet and Bemidji State University. The projects were in the system's 2006 capital budget request but were not included in the Legislature's bonding bill this spring.

The $177 million biennial budget increase request was developed assuming tuition would rise 4 percent per year, which would be the smallest tuition increase since 1999. The board unanimously approved the budget request with an amendment proposed by Trustee David Olson that the final adopted budget will not increase tuition by more than an average of 4 percent annually regardless of the legislative appropriation in the 2007 session. Olson said his motion is intended to help gain support for the system's overall budget request at the Legislature.

"We are confident that this is a budget that will enable us to move forward and make significant progress toward our strategic goals," said Board Chair David Paskach. "We intend to make a strong case at the Legislature for full funding of our request."

The proposed $177 million increase includes $57 million to cover inflation and $70 million for technology infrastructure improvements.

In addition, $24 million would be used to increase recruitment and retention of underserved students, including first-generation and low-income students and students of color. The outreach and recruitment activities are projected to result in increased enrollment of new students in fall 2008 of approximately 6,700 underrepresented students including 1,500 new students of color. Currently, about 26,500 students of color are enrolled in the system.

Retention initiatives during the coming academic year will provide academic support services that will improve the retention rate to about 48 percent for students of color, compared to the current rate of about 44 percent.

The proposed increase also includes $26 million in funding for academic innovations, including expanding math, science and health care education and establishing a Biosciences Center of Excellence.

Student associations for the colleges and universities had asked for no tuition increases in the biennial budget request. McCormick said he regrets that the system has to propose a tuition increase, but noted that the increases will be smaller than in recent years. The 4 percent tuition increase will result in an estimated $73 million in revenue for the colleges and universities over the two years.

The system also will commit $25 million of its existing resources to help fund the initiatives.