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Higher Ed board committee recommends tuition rate hikes

GRAND FORKS--Students in North Dakota universities will almost all face tuition increases of 2.4 to 2.5 percent in the coming school year if a recommendation is approved.

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GRAND FORKS-Students in North Dakota universities will almost all face tuition increases of 2.4 to 2.5 percent in the coming school year if a recommendation is approved.
The state Board of Higher Education's Budget and Finance Committee voted in favor of a proposed annual budget Friday that would raise tuition at all 11 North Dakota University System institutions for the 2015-16 academic year.
The committee voted in favor of tuition increases of 2.5 percent -- the ceiling set by state law -- for the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and seven other NDUS institutions to make up for shortfalls in paying for higher salaries, health insurance and utilities costs, the panel said.
Those other seven colleges and universities are Williston State College, North Dakota State College of Science, Dakota College at Bottineau, Dickinson State University, Mayville State University, Minot State University and Valley City State University.
Under the budget proposal, UND tuition would climb from $6,388 to $6,548 per year. Room and board at UND would also climb by $426.
North Dakota State University tuition is on track to rise by 2.4 percent, with tuition rising from $6,604 to $6,762.
Lake Region State College in Devils Lake would see a 2 percent tuition increase and Bismarck State College a 1.9 percent increase.
UND's School of Medicine and Health Sciences was the only school permitted by the Legislature to exceed the 2.5 percent ceiling. The committee advised the full board to allow a 3 percent increase to the medical school's tuition.
The proposal will go before the full board next week.
The proposed budget comes about a week after legislators passed House Bill 1003, which funded the 11 colleges and universities under NDUS and capped tuition increases at 2.5 percent.
The state meted out nearly $172 million in general funds to UND for the biennium, around $17.6 million more than in the previous biennium.
But even though UND -- and most other NDUS institutions -- is seeing an increase in state funds, it is also taking a hit to its budget because of what is called the cost to continue, that is, salary adjustments, increases in health insurance and higher utilities costs, said NDUS Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Laura Glatt.
UND will fall short by around $4.9 million when it comes to those costs.
"That means they're going to have to find money elsewhere in their budget to make up for that shortfall," Glatt said.
NDUS institutions may also have to find money in their budgets to match state funds when it comes to repairs.
Under HB 1003, NDUS institutions are required to put forward $2 for every $1 in state money for "extraordinary repairs," or major repairs or replacements meant to extend the life of a piece of infrastructure.

The state provided $4.6 million to UND in extraordinary repairs funding, but before UND could touch that money, it would need to come up with $9.2 million in matching funds, Glatt said.
"Certainly the ability to generate private funds for regular repairs and maintenance is a pretty large task. So certainly campuses would need to look within their operations funding to come up with that match," Glatt said.
UND tuition isn't the only cost shouldered by students that increases under the proposed budget.
UND students would also pay more for room and board under the proposed 2015-16 budget, costing $7,236, up from $6,810 in the 2014-15 academic year.
Those increases will be used in part, to cover salary increases and health insurance costs.
Student fees will also be higher, with each student charged an extra $64 in student activity fees, UND Wellness Center fees and technology fees.
Increases in the student activity and Wellness Center fees will go toward salaries and health insurance benefits of workers at departments supported by those fees, such as the Memorial Union, Women's Center and Multicultural Student Services.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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