University of Minnesota Amends Budget Request for Twin Cities, Out-of-State Campuses – InForum

ST. PAUL — Students in Twin Cities could face a tuition freeze up to a 7% increase this fall, depending on what the Legislature does with the University of Minnesota’s latest budget proposal.

Budget director Julie Tonneson said the university’s budget forecasts are usually very accurate, but they have fallen 3% this year because enrollments are lower than expected. “We just didn’t get it right,” she told the Board of Regents on Friday.

Earlier in the week, Tonneson told a Legislative Committee that the university system is seeing fewer freshmen, transfers from other colleges, and graduate and non-resident students while struggling to retain its own students; and, she said, students are graduating faster than they used to.

The university originally planned a 3.5% tuition increase for its flagship campus and 1% at the four out-of-state campuses — Crookston, Duluth, Rochester, Morris — and for the 2023-24 school year. However, these numbers have been revised to 7 and 3.5%, respectively, in response to low enrollment.

However, those tuition increases will not be required if the Legislature approves $88.5 million in new funding for the upcoming biennium.

The university is asking for $48 million to offset this year’s low enrollment and another $40.5 million to freeze undergraduate tuition at all of its campuses next year.

The Board of Regents also on Friday approved a request for $9 million to provide tuition at one of the five campuses — not just Morris — for Native American tribal members who live either in Minnesota or elsewhere but in a Minnesota- tribe are enrolled.

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Regents approved the supplementary budget request 11-1 on Friday. Darrin Rosha voted no, saying he supports lower tuition for all students but doesn’t see how providing special benefits to a group “brings us together”.

Regent Bo Thao-Urabe contradicted Rosha, saying, “It is our chance to do something right” for a group that has not been well served in the past.

Steve Sviggum voted yes but didn’t like that the university wants $48 million to make up for poor budgeting.

“It doesn’t make me feel good that we’re asking the government to take care of our problem,” he said.

The $97.5 million in new money the university is seeking for the upcoming biennium would come in addition to a $205 million request the board approved in October to pay for core mission support, a new scholarship program for Minnesota residents visiting Duluth, Crookston, Morris or Rochester, and safety improvements.

Collectively, this $302.5 million in new funding would bring the university’s total two-year funding to $1.681 billion, a 22% increase over the current biennium.

At the same time, the university is seeking $950 million from the state to purchase and operate four medical buildings from Fairview Health Services as part of Fairview’s proposed merger with South Dakota-based Sanford Health. Fairview and Sanford are ready to sell, but the parties appear to be at odds on the value of the buildings.

If these acquisitions happen, the university would certainly seek more government funding in the years to come to realize its vision for an academic health center, including a new hospital on the East Bank campus in Minneapolis.

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The regents agreed on Friday to pursue this vision.

“The 5.8 million Minnesotans need and deserve a public academic medical center,” said Mayo Clinic physician Regent Ruth Johnson. “This is absolutely necessary. This cannot be operated by a healthcare system outside of the state of South Dakota that has very different values.


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