Eye On Boise

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18, 2012, 2:37 P.M.

State Board OKs higher ed tuition hikes; says rates ‘still the best deal in town’

The State Board of Education has approved tuition and fee increases proposed by the state's colleges and universities for next year as requested by each institution: 4 percent for Lewis-Clark State College; 6.1 percent for the University of Idaho; 5.7 percent for Boise State University; 4.7 percent for Idaho State University; and 4.7 percent for Eastern Idaho Technical College. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

All the votes were unanimous except the U of I and BSU increases, which passed on 5-2 votes, after board member Ken Edmunds said he worried that state lawmakers expected lower increases and said, “Regardless of what's happening in other states, the barrier to our students is significant … due to financial issues.” Edmunds and board President Richard Westerberg cast the dissenting votes.

Student body officials from the schools backed the increases; among their reasons: If the schools can't hire enough instructors for them to get the classes they need, they can't graduate on time, and their education will cost even more. BSU President Bob Kustra told the board, “We are all dealing with what is a balancing act, balancing affordability against the quality of the education we are able to afford our students.” He noted that after an extensive public-involvement program on his campus, the recommendation presented to him was for a 7.2 percent increase, but he worried about the message that would send to prospective parents and students “about the cost of higher education today. … I came down on 5.7 percent as a realistic approach to what Boise State needs to fund itself.”

He noted, “We are agonizing here over what is … some of the most modest, affordable, bargain-rated tuitions anywhere in the United States of America. That's really a credit, I think, to this board, it's a credit to the universities the board holds responsible that we can do what we do with the minimum expenditure from our students when it comes to tuition.”

ISU President Arthur Vailas told the board that public university tuition has been going up across the country for years, whether state appropriations are up or down. “It's because the universities … have been in a catch-up mode for the last 25 years,” he said.

Board member Milford Terrell, who made all the motions, cited “the compelling arguments that I've heard here today that we're still under most of our sister institutions throughout the United States. … We're still the best deal in town.”




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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