See more of the story

The University of Minnesota is considering raising tuition at each of its five campuses next school year as U leaders try to deal with inflation, requests for higher wages and other factors squeezing their budget.

Tuition rates at the U vary based on the type of program and the location where classes are held. Under a proposal coming before the Board of Regents next week, Minnesota residents taking undergraduate classes on the Twin Cities campus would pay $15,148 in tuition next school year, a 4.5% increase. Increases on other campuses would range from 1.5% to 4.5%.

The tuition rates are outlined in a $5 billion budget proposal that would also increase salaries for some employees and call for budget cuts in some parts of the university. U faculty have called for an increase in their salaries, saying research shows wages are not comparable to some other large research universities.

"While it is challenging to build a budget that achieves strategic goals and advances the University's excellence in the face of rising costs, flat state support, and limited revenue growth, this budget successfully addresses key priorities shared by the President and the Board of Regents," U leaders wrote in documents prepared for next week's board meeting. "It does so by investing in building and maintaining excellence, incorporating a responsible tuition and fee plan, and challenging all units within the University to continuously prioritize and improve efficiency to move resources to areas of highest strategic impact or need."

U regents will accept feedback online and in a public forum May 10. They're expected to take a final vote on the budget in June.

The U has increased tuition multiple times in recent years, and leaders indicated in budget documents that the rates proposed for next school year are "larger than originally planned and proposed," in part because they haven't received additional state funding.

The U asked state lawmakers for an additional $45 million to support its "core mission," money that could go toward limiting tuition, promoting research or expanding student services. In legislative hearings, lawmakers from both parties have asked for more details on the U's expenses and plans for addressing declining enrollment at some locations.

Without that additional funding, the U proposal calls for undergraduate tuition for Minnesota residents attending the Duluth campus to rise 1.5% to $12,958, and tuition at the Rochester campus to increase 4.5% to $13,854. Some campuses have higher tuition rates for students who live in other states.

Student government leaders say they understand the U needs to find ways to deal with inflation, but they've also been encouraging administrators to remember that an increase of a few hundred dollars could affect a student's ability to pay for school or rent.

"We, in student government, are always going to be advocating for the university to keep tuition as low as possible because we understand that can prevent students from being able to access an affordable higher education," said Sara Davis, undergraduate student government president. "We want folks to come here and we want to keep the talent that we have in Minnesota here."

U leaders say they hope changes to financial aid programs will help offset some of the tuition increases for students most in need. The federal government has in recent years increased the amount of aid some students can receive through Pell Grants. Minnesota is also launching a North Star Promise program that covers tuition for residents who attend a public school in the state, if their families make less than $80,000 per year.

The U also asked employees for proposals for reducing expenses, saying: "To be successful, operations must become more efficient, and existing resources must be reprioritized."

Some divisions are eliminating positions when employees leave or hiring new employees at lower expense. Some are reducing budgets for supplies, food or travel or hosting fewer events.

"While the total expense reduction amount is significant, it does not represent one or two large initiatives," leaders wrote in budget documents. "Instead, it is a collection of individual actions and decisions spread across almost every unit of the University."