SBOE should approve proposed 3.5 percent tuition increase
This time every year students, faculty and staff turn their attention to the Idaho State Board of Education.
This annual interest in the board is focused on the tuition proposals from Idaho’s universities and the outcome of the board’s vote.
In recent years, the board has showed concern for the rising price of higher education — an attitude appreciated by students who’ve felt the skyrocketing tuition levels the most.
But as much as students hate to see the price tag on their education increase, the last thing they want is to compromise the quality of the educational experience at their university.
This year, University of Idaho administrators are asking for a modest 3.5 percent increase in annual resident undergraduate tuition and fees.
The $2.7 million in additional revenue from this proposal would cover the bare minimum — a state-mandated salary increase for all university employees and the costs associated with library inflation. The board will hear presentations from all universities regarding their tuition requests and make their decision at their meeting this week on UI’s campus.
Students should understand that with enrollment declines and less-than-adequate state funding, revenue has to come from somewhere to cover the costs of running a university.
The requested increase this year won’t be used to address the university’s nearly $300 million in deferred maintenance expenses or make any new additions to the university. It truly is a bare minimum request as administrators share the concerns of the board and of students when it comes to the accessibility and affordability of education in the state.
But if UI’s tuition proposal is not approved, administrators will have to take a hard look at the current budget and find places to make cuts in order to fund the state-mandated Change in Employee Compensation and still cover basic costs. These cuts would likely compromise the current resources available to students and the quality of the university as a whole.
As much as students hate to see yet another tuition increase, it is vital to maintaining the university’s current operations. The state board members should approve this request — which is the lowest requested increase in a decade.
The administration’s effort to keep the increase as low as possible, maintain the quality of the university students have come to know and love and provide much-deserved and long overdue salary increases for faculty and staff, is appreciated.
Now it’s up to the state board to do what’s right and approve the increase the university sorely needs.