Tuition and fees to increase by 3.5 %
The Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) unanimously approved the lowest tuition and fee increase for the University of Idaho in more than a decade Wednesday.
Proposed by UI administrators, resident and non-resident tuition and fees will rise 3.5 percent for the 2015-2016 academic year.
“We are very pleased,” said Katherine Aiken, UI provost and executive vice president. “I think it
represents a whole lot of work behind the scenes.”
Before the decision, UI President Chuck Staben presented to the board about the need for a tuition and fee increase and said the additional funds would be used primarily to fund a 3 percent increase in Change in Employee Compensation (CEC). Staben said the additional funds would be used to fund employee medical benefits and obligated costs.
UI in-state students will see their tuition and fees rise by $236 this fall, while out-of-state students will see it rise by $710.
ASUI President Nate Fisher, who helped Staben present to the board, said students were involved throughout the budget process and he thinks the increase is reasonable.
“This is something students can and should support,” Fisher said.
During his address to the board, Staben said employee salaries are the biggest expense and the biggest budget challenge for the university this year.
Like many other schools around the state and across the nation, UI has seen a significant decrease in state funding. In 2001, 73 percent of the General Education Budget came from the state, as opposed to 50 percent this year.
“While we continuously seek means of containing costs, students have had to pay a larger share of the cost of education across the nation,” Staben said.
Staben said funding the 3 percent CEC mandated by Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter was the biggest challenge in this year’s budget.
All other four-year Idaho institutions asked for no more than a 3.5 percent increase, and SBOE Vice President Rod Lewis thanked the institutions for providing low proposed increases, even though they faced financial pressure as state funding has been cut over the past 15 years.
“This was a good faith statement by our institutions that were trying to keep our tuition and fees down,” Lewis said. “We sincerely appreciate any additional support we can obtain from our state.”
The board unanimously approved a proposed 3.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for Boise State University and Eastern Idaho Technical College. In similar fashion, the board also unanimously approved a proposed 1.7 percent tuition and fee increase for Lewis and Clark State College and a 3.3 percent increase for Idaho State University.
Lewis said these low tuition and fee increases would keep college accessible to students.
Matt Freeman, chief fiscal officer for the SBOE, said the board changed its process in handling tuition and fee increases to give more information to board members before the meeting. He said the board held pre-meetings with the institutions to assess what expenses they would face in light of Gov. C.L “Butch” Otter’s plan for a 3 percent increase in CEC funding.
Freeman said the pre-meetings also allowed institutions to identify what budget items were critical and which were non-essential.
Lewis said the increased amount of communication allowed the board to express its expectations going into the meeting and removed much of the difficulty behind the whole process.
In the past, Aiken said institutions would announce their proposal at the meeting and the board would follow up by having a closed-door session to decide the final tuition increase. She said she hopes keeping tuition and fee increases low would show legislators that Idaho higher education institutions are financially responsible.
Aiken said the new process allowed everybody to be more thoughtful about the increases and allowed the board members to ask more thoughtful questions.
“It has been an incredibly different process,” Aiken said.
Ryan Tarinelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ryantarinelli