Kaler to propose reduced tuition increase, investments

Just got this from the U:

U of M President Kaler’s first budget amendment will reduce proposed tuition increases and support critical investments

For the first time in his presidency, University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will make recommendations for critical investments in the university when he presents his plan for allocating an additional $25 million annually that the university received during the special session.

Kaler will outline his proposal for board action at the Board of Regents meeting from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Sept. 9, at McNamara Alumni Center, Room 600, 200 Oak St. S.E., Minneapolis. Committee meetings will be held Thursday, Sept. 8.

“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,” said Kaler.

The proposed changes are the result of a decrease in the overall reduction of the state’s appropriation to the university over the 2011 budget. During the special legislative session, the change in the state appropriation to the U increased from $520.3 to $545.3 million, or an additional $25 million per year. Even with this restoration, overall, the university’s state funding was cut 7.8 percent. The university’s fiscal year 2012 began on July 1.

The president’s proposal follows the original framework outlined in the provisional budget plan, adopted by the Board of Regents in June, that generated one-third of the needed revenue through tuition increases and two-thirds through program and administrative cost reductions.

“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. “We will continue to fight to keep tuition increases low by emphasizing the university’s role as the economic engine for Minnesota and a driver of our state’s quality of life.”

It is too late in the billing cycle to impact tuition for FY12. However, for spring 2012 Kaler is proposing to spend $4.15 million for one-time, average $310 scholarships for 13,400 low- and middle-income Minnesota students eligible for the U Promise scholarship. This will benefit 46 percent of the undergraduate student body. Also, Kaler wants to spend $8.3 million to reduce a planned 5 percent tuition increase to 3.5 percent in fiscal year 2013 for undergraduate students.

The current state support is equivalent to the funding the U received in the late 1990s and now represents only 18 percent of total funding for the university.

The president’s amended budget outlines the following spending in fiscal year 2012:

One-time allocations: $10.75 million

•    $4.15 million for one-time scholarships for 13,400 low- and middle-income Minnesota undergraduate students eligible for U Promise program during spring semester 2012.

•    $6 million over three years to support Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships. The fellowships recognize high-quality dissertation research and scholarly work and support timely degree completion.

•    $350,000 for a network upgrade on the Morris campus.

•    $250,000 additional academic investment on the Crookston campus.

Annual allocations: $8.15 million

•    $4 million for new faculty hires, particularly in the STEM fields, the Carlson School of Management and the College of Liberal Arts. This will restore about 20 of the more than 50 faculty lines that are open as a result of budget reductions over the past few years.

•    $3.05 million to mitigate impacts of state cuts in the Medical Education & Research Costs (MERC) program, of which $150,000 will be used to restore the Foreign Trainee program within the U’s Medical School. The program helps immigrant doctors qualify to practice in Minnesota.

•    $800,000 to restore state cuts and support the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab.

•    $150,000 to restore state cuts and support the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. This will give about 100 more students access to undergraduate research opportunities. Overall, this program benefits 900 students annually.

•    $150,000 to adjust budget reductions in the College of Pharmacy.

These annual and one-time improvements in fiscal year 2012 amount to $18.9 million. The remaining $6.1 million will be reserved for unforeseen state reductions or additional investments in fiscal year 2013. In 2013 there will also be an additional $8.5 million available for strategic investments.