MnSCU passes budget with tuition freeze

Tuition flat this year. (MPR Photo / Tim Post)

Trustees of state-run colleges and universities have approved a budget that freezes undergraduate tuition next year.

MnSCU had originally proposed a 3 percent tuition increase, but received millions of dollars in state funding to keep tuition flat.

MnSCU faculty and staff will get a 2.6 percent compensation increase. Inter Faculty Organization President Nancy Black said it’s the first increase faculty have received in four years. MnSCU will also spend $17 million this year to retain high-performing faculty and staff.

The budget includes more than $11 million for workforce development projects, including more training equipment for students. MnSCU received less than a fifth of what it had requested from the state for its workforce initiative.

Chancellor Steven Rosenstone told me MnSCU will still make it work:

“Clearly it provides a tuition freeze for students, which is a wonderful thing. But it also means that much of the innovation we had hoped to provide this year — and growth in programs to better serve students in key sectors of our state — aren’t going to be able to happen. … We’re pleased for the focus on affordability, we’re pleased for the $7 million to help with the purchase of equipment a year from now. But it’s going to be a very tight couple of years.”

The operating budget is about two and a half percent larger than last year’s.

MnSCU also wants to spend 14 percent less on campus construction and renovation than it did last year, and will demolish about a dozen unused buildings across the state to save tens of millions of dollars in operations and maintenance. Trustees approved that budget request.