Among the appropriation recommendations that President Eric Kaler will make to the Board of Regents are reducing a planned tuition hike and distributing a one-time scholarship for low- and middle-income undergrads.
For the first time in his presidency, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will outline his recommendations for investments in the state’s largest post-secondary institution—and they include softening a planned tuition hike and doling out one-time scholarships to low- and middle-income students.
On Friday, Kaler will present to the Board of Regents a plan for allocating an unanticipated $50 million that the State of Minnesota appropriated to the U of M during last month’s special legislative session.
In June, the board approved a provisional $520.3 million-per-year budget based on a higher education bill that the university called the “worst-case scenario.” But the state appropriation approved during the special session was $25 million more than that—or $545.3 million for both the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.
The university’s fiscal 2012 began on July 1. Even with the higher-than-expected appropriation, the school’s state funding is still down 7.8 percent for the current two-year budget period.
“A budget is more than just numbers, it’s a reflection of priorities and values. These recommendations underscore mine: to reduce the burden of tuition on students and families and to make strategic investments to drive excellence at the university,” Kaler said in a statement.
The U of M said that it’s too late in the billing cycle to help students pay for this fall’s tuition and fees. But under Kaler’s plan, this spring, low- and middle-income undergraduate students would get a one-time scholarship averaging $310. That equates to $4.15 million doled out to 46 percent of the undergraduate student body.
Kaler’s plan also calls for $8.3 million to reduce next year’s undergraduate tuition increase from an expected 5 percent to 3.5 percent. According to the Star Tribune, tuition and fees have doubled over the past 10 years and reached $13,060 for Minnesota residents this school year—a figure that doesn’t include room and board.
“We asked students to help shoulder the pain of budget reductions, and it is only fair that we take a proportional share of this increase in our allocation and give it back to students,” Kaler said in a statement.
Other allocations called for in Kaler’s plan:
• $6 million over three years for Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, a program that supports timely graduate degree completion.
• $4 million annually for new faculty hires, particularly in the science, technology, education, and math fields; the Carlson School of Management; and the College of Liberal Arts. According to the U, this move would restore about 20 of the more than 50 faculty lines that remain open as a result of budget reductions over the past few years.
• $3.05 million annually for a program that trains medical professionals and helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota.
• $800,000 annually to support the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.
• $150,000 for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, which would give additional students the opportunity to work on various research projects with faculty.
• $150,000 annually for the College of Pharmacy.
To learn more about Kaler and how he’ll approach a punishing budget, a legacy of top-down management and other challenges during his presidency, check out the September cover story in Twin Cities Business.