MnSCU chancellor recommends lowest tuition increases since 1998

Posted: January 15, 2008

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

Tuition rates would go up an average of 2 percent at the two-year colleges and 3 percent at the state universities this fall - the lowest increase since 1998, under a recommendation released Monday by Chancellor James H. McCormick.

The recommendation follows direction from the Board of Trustees last year to keep tuition increases as low as possible while enhancing the already high quality of the system's 3,700 programs.

The increases would bring the average tuition to $4,080 for a full-time two-year college student and $5,561 for a full-time state university student in the 2008-2009 academic year. Overall, tuition and fees for the system's 32 colleges and universities would rise an average of 2.7 percent or $129 to $4,849.

The Board of Trustees is expected to act on the recommendation at its March meeting.

"We are grateful that strong financial support from the Legislature and governor, along with some significant cost cutting throughout the system to improve efficiency, allowed us to propose such a modest increase," said Chancellor James H. McCormick. "We also know that even this small increase will strain some students, requiring them to juggle studies and long hours of work to meet their career goals.

"Several of our colleges and universities have had to make some tough decisions about programs with extremely low enrollments. I commend them for carefully analyzing how best to meet the needs of their students and communities," McCormick said. "I'm clear that our colleges and universities continue to offer the greatest value of higher education in the state."

Under the recommendation, tuition and fee increases would range from $72 a year to $238 a year, depending on the institution. System officials work closely with each college and university to develop the chancellor's recommendation. Tuition rates vary due to program offerings, local market conditions and other factors.

The recommendation follows direction from the Board of Trustees last year to keep tuition increases as low as possible while enhancing the already high quality of the system's 3,700 programs. A worrisome trend began in 2001 when the economy held down state appropriations and tuition increased by double digits for four straight years. Each year, the size of the state's appropriation to the system plays the major role in determining tuition rates.

During the last few years, tuition increases have ranged from 3.6 to 6.1 percent. When the system was established in 1995, state appropriations covered about two thirds of the cost of educating students. Today, state appropriations cover about 52 percent of the cost. Tuition makes up the rest.

Note: A list of proposed annual tuition and fees for 2008-2009 is attached.