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University tuition, fee hikes largely will cover lawmaker-approved raises for employees

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the tuition and fee increases for Idaho state colleges and universities approved by the state Board of Education today, which range from 1.7 percent to 3.5 percent next year for resident undergraduates. The fees will largely go to cover salary and benefit increases approved by state lawmakers this year, but not fully funded from state funds.

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben offered in January to freeze university tuition next year, if lawmakers would cover the full costs universities will face for the 3 percent raises they approved for state workers next year, including those at universities. Undergraduate resident tuition at the U of I has been rising each year for more than two decades; employee costs take up 75 to 80 percent of its budget.

Lawmakers declined; they’ve made that move, called a “fund shift,” for universities in nine of the past 18 years, but not once since the economic downturn hit in 2008. The budget they approved for Idaho’s colleges and universities next year shows an overall increase in state funds of 3 percent; Gov. Butch Otter signed it into law on Friday. “The board and the university share a commitment to accessible, affordable education,” Staben said today. “This modest increase allows us to maintain quality at moderate costs to Idaho students and families.”

Lowest tuition increases in 15 years OK’d for Idaho universities

Idaho’s state Board of Education has approved the lowest tuition increases for the state’s four-year colleges and universities in the last 15 years, ranging from 1.7 percent to 3.5 percent for undergraduate resident tuition and fees next year. Boise State University, the University of Idaho and Eastern Idaho Technical College all will have 3.5 percent increases. Idaho State University students will see a 3.3 percent increase. And Lewis-Clark State College students will see a 1.7 percent increase.

The state board unanimously approved the increases at its meeting this morning in Moscow.

Emma Atchley, state board president, said, “We know cost is a significant barrier to higher education so we have worked with our college and university leadership to minimize tuition and fee increases for our students.” Most of the tuition and fee increases are to cover costs for salary and benefit increases approved by state lawmakers this year, but not fully funded from state funds.

“We are balancing making higher education as affordable as possible and providing the programs students need to be employable, but we cannot expect them to carry the entire burden of additional costs,” Atchley said.  “We understand the state budget process is one of balancing competing priorities, and we appreciate the support we have received from Gov. Otter and the Legislature. Significant support from the state in the future will be key if we are going to provide education opportunities to meet the 60% goal and the workforce demand in Idaho.”

The state board’s goal is that 60 percent of Idahoans age 25 to 34 have degrees or certificates beyond high school by the year 2020, but the state has a long way to go to reach that mark. State board members noted that tuition and fees now cover just 48 percent of the operating costs at Idaho’s state colleges and universities, though they remain affordable compared to other western states.

The University of Idaho released a detailed breakdown of its tuition and fees hike: Resident undergrad tuition and fees will rise 3.5 percent, or $236, to $7,020 next year; non-resident undergrad 3.5 percent or $710 to $21,024; resident graduate students will pay 4.3 percent more, a $340 increase to $8,222; and non-resident graduate students will see a 3.8 percent hike, an $814 increase, to $22,226.

The U of I estimated the increase will give the university $2.7 million in increased revenue over the current year’s budget.

NIC News: Tuition up & a new BB coach

COEUR d'ALENE - North Idaho College trustees decided Wednesday to balance the college's budget for the next fiscal year by increasing tuition rather than levying more property taxes.

The trustees accepted the college administration's proposal to fill a budget shortfall of $352,182 for fiscal year 2015 by raising tuition by $2 per credit for Kootenai County students and $6 per credit for out-of-district students. Local students taking 12 credits will now pay $1,511 per semester, a 1.6 percent increase.

"We are still one of the lowest-cost colleges in the region, and in the state," said NIC Controller Sarah Garcia, who presented the administration's budget recommendation to trustees. Maureen Dolan, CdA Press
  • The North Idaho College Athletics Department announced that Corey Symons has been named the head men’s basketball coach at North Idaho College. Symons replaces Jared Phay, who accepted the head coaching position at the College of Southern Idaho earlier this month. Symons has been the team’s assistant coach for 10 years and interim head coach since Phay’s departure. NIC Newsroom

State ed board approves college tuition and fee hikes, with trims

Idaho’s State Board of Education has approved tuition increases for next year of 4 percent at BSU and the University of Idaho, 2 percent at Lewis-Clark State College and 3.5 percent at Idaho State University. The board trimmed back the requested increases for both BSU and UI, which had sought a 4.7 percent tuition and fee increase; board members said they wanted to hold the hikes to no more than 4 percent. “The board recognizes how difficult it is for our students to bear the cost of their public higher education,” said board President Don Soltman.

The state board is meeting today and tomorrow in Moscow; you can see their full tuition and fee announcement here. Oddly, not addressed in the announcement – but covered in the chart at the end – is Eastern Idaho Technical College’s request for a 6.3 percent increase in tuition and fees, which the board approved. That jumps annual tuition and fees at the school from $2,122 to $2,256. The board’s announcement is headed “Tuition and fees held at low levels,” and notes that full-time tuition and fees in Idaho are low compared to peer institutions both in the west and nationwide.

BSU requested a 6.1 percent increase for full-time students and 1.5 percent for part-time; the board approved 5.5 percent for full-time and 1.5 percent for part-time, for an average across the student body of 4 percent. Tuition and fees to attend BSU full-time will rise from $6,292 this year to $6,640 next year; at the U of I, it’ll go from $6,524 this year to $6,784 next year.

State Board OKs tuition hikes, but trims those for BSU, U of I

Idaho's state Board of Education today approved tuition increases for the state's colleges and universities, but trimmed the requests from both the University of Idaho and Boise State University. The U of I was approved for a 5 percent increase, short of the 5.9 percent it requested; and BSU for 6.9 percent, short of the 8.6 percent requested. “The board recognizes the need to balance access and affordability with the ability to maintain quality programs and facilities at our public institutions,” said Board President Ken Edmunds.ISU got its requested 4.5 percent increase; LCSC got its requested 4 percent; and Eastern Idaho Technical College got its requested 4.9 percent. Click below for the state board's full announcement; you can read a full report here from AP reporter Hannah Furfaro. BSU issued a news release about how the increase fits into its plans to shift toward charging tuition on a per-credit basis; you can read it here.

State Board of Ed meeting in Moscow today, considering higher ed tuition increases

The State Board of Education is meeting in Moscow on the University of Idaho campus today, and considering tuition and fee increase proposals for state colleges and universities. The U of I is requesting a 5.9 percent increase in tuition and fees next year; BSU, 8.6 percent; ISU, 4.5 percent; Eastern Idaho Technical College, 4.9 percent; and Lewis-Clark State College, 4 percent.

Since fiscal year 2009, state funding for the four-year institutions, UI, BSU, ISU and LCSC, has dropped by $41.1 million, while total tuition and fee revenue has increased by $74.7 million. So far this morning, U of I officials and student leaders have spoken out in support of the proposed increase; you can watch live here. State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna said, “I don’t think we talk much about what a bargain it is to go to our universities here in Idaho, when you look at even the surrounding states, what they charge.”

With the proposed increases, full-time resident tuition and fees for a year at the U of I next year would be $6,580; at BSU, $6,392; at ISU, $6,344; at EITC, $2,122; and at LCSC, $5,784.

Senate GOP: Give colleges extra $300 million, cut tuition

OLYMPIA — Senate Republicans announced what they dubbed a bold plan to reverse the trend in the state's public colleges and universities, saying they wanted to add $300 million to the budget for higher education over the next two years and cut tuition by 3 percent.

The extra money amounts to a 10 percent increase in the overall state spending on higher education. Of the total, $50 million would be directed at increasing slots for science, technology, engineering and math degrees, $42 million for lower tuition and $26 million to expand state need grants for children.

But at a press conference called to announce the introduction of the legislation that spells out the plan, sponsors refused to detail how they would find that $300 million in a budget that already is out of balance and has competing demands for the money that is expected to be there. They won't raise taxes, they said.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said state tax receipts are expected to grow by about 7 percent, which will be enough to cover the costs if the Legislature makes higher education a priority. . .

Edit: Gookin’s Right, It Isn’t Fair

Darn it, Dan, you're right. It isn't fair. We're referring to Parental Frustration No. 4,366, Article 119, subsection B. You could look it up. We're paraphrasing here, but this particular fairness doctrine involves difficulty in effectively communicating with college-aged children. In this particular case, Dan Gookin — a local author, member of the Coeur d'Alene City Council and proud pop — wrote a letter to the editor expressing his angst over several aspects of PF 4366. One of Dan's sons didn't see a "tuition due" email he'd been sent from North Idaho College, leading to his tuition not being paid, NIC withholding the son's certificate and rendering credit for summer courses in doubt. News flash: Many college-aged children have moved past email at lightning speed. It is as antiquated to them as snail mail has become to many a middle-ager. These days, as Mr. Gookin points out, text messaging and social media like Facebook and Twitter are not just the preferred methods of youthful communication, but in some instances are seemingly the only ways they communicate/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.

Question: How often do you use traditional email to communicate with others?

Trustee Responds To Gookin Letter

On Sunday, the Coeur d'Alene Press published a letter to the editor from Councilman Dan Gookin in which Gookin criticized North Idaho College for sending a son's tuition notice via email. Gookin's son apparently didn't open his email and see the bill. In today's Press, NIC Trustee Mic Armon responds to Gookin's criticism:

I can understand your concern. I have had three of my own children/students enroll for classes at the University of Idaho, the University of Arizona, online at Boise State University, online at Brigham Young University and as a dual enrolled student at NIC. Every one of these institutions has the same policy. They are all very succinct in informing the incoming student that all communication including billing, grades, updates, etc., will be through their college email account. It is truly the student’s responsibility to stay informed and read their emails. Also, once the student reaches the age of 18, they are an adult, and even though you may be paying the tuition bill, all information will only be released to the student. More here.

Question: How responsible were you at 18?

Christie: Time For Sonny To Grow Up

Item: Gookin unhappy with North Idaho College email/Coeur d'Alene Press letter to editor

NIC Trustee Christie Wood: "Dan, If you are checking in here I certaily agree with your statement of “NIC is a great learning institution.” As for the rest of your concern it is really not an issue for the Board of Trustees. If your son is over 18 years of age then he is considered an adult and you are not privy to his bills or grades even if you pay the bill. It is up to your son to inform you. All of the students are assigned an email account and they are told upfront that is how they will receive their tuition notice, any communication from instructors, and their grades. Trust me I have been in your shoes. My son was attending U of M and I did not have access to any of his records even though I paid the bill. He seemed to like that set up. He also signed up for a few on-line classes that I paid for at NIC and he never bothered attending or dropping them. I responded by dropping him from my college banking account. If he wants to finish his degree he will have to pay for it. Love him dearly but I am insisting he take responsibility. I will let you know some day how it all turns out!

Question: Tell us a time that you stepped back and let your kid learn a valuable but tough lesson.

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.”

Board of Ed considers tuition, fee increases for universities…

The state board of Education is currently hearing pitches from state universities for tuition fee hikes for next year; University of Idaho President Duane Nellis said the UI's proposed 6.1 percent increase is “a very important figure to help us stabilize our situation after four years of cuts.” It would mean an additional $356 a year for resident students. Samantha Perez, student body president, told the board students have been strongly supportive of the plan. “I haven't received one verbal or written complaint about the proposal,” she said. If the increase were approved, the UI's resident tuition and fees for a year would rise to $6,212, Nellis said, while the average among comparable schools is nearly $8,300. You can watch the meeting live online here.

Idaho universities tone down their tuition hike requests for next year

Idaho's state universities overall are looking at lower tuition increases next year than they've imposed in recent years, AP reporter Jessie Bonner reports; the universities will make their pitch to the State Board of Education next week. Click below to read Bonner's full report.

College tuition, fee hikes approved

The Idaho State Board of Education has voted to approve, as requested, proposed tuition and fee increases from the state's four-year colleges and universities: 8.4 percent at the University of Idaho; 7 percent each at ISU and LCSC; and 5 percent at Boise State University. "The institutions have a very difficult challenge," said state board President Richard Westerberg. "Declining funding from the state of Idaho places more burden on students and their family. The proposals before us today reflected a cooperative effort between administrations, faculty, staff and students." You can read the board's full announcement here.

Then, the state board heard from and questioned state schools Superintendent Tom Luna about his "Students Come First" reform plan, including online course requirements; some members expressed reservations about setting a rule requiring online courses before a state task force finishes studying the issue, while others supported more online courses sooner. The board asked its staff to look into the process it should follow, and said it may hold a special meeting on the matter this spring; then on Thursday, it appointed board secretary Don Soltman to work with staff on that. "Don's going to take a couple of weeks and get with staff and work with all of us on, is this possible, in terms of meeting the time requirements to have a rule before the Legislature in January and all of that," said board spokesman Mark Browning. The board may form a task force, but it's "not yet constituted," he said. Far from being "up and running" on developing a rule, Browning said, "We're still trying to figure out where we're running to."

State board considering student tuition, fee hikes at colleges and universities

Here's a link to the live webcast of today's State Board of Education meeting in Moscow, at which the board is considering proposed student tuition and fee increases at Idaho's colleges and universities. Lewis-Clark State College, which is presenting now, is seeking a 7 percent increase, as is Idaho State University; BSU wants 5 percent, and the University of Idaho is looking for an 8.4 percent increase. (Note: If the webcast is playing music, they're on a break.)

Higher education cost is, well, higher…but you knew that

Despite the television advertising campaign you've seen, bemoaning the low rate of Idaho high school graduates who seek further learning, the Idaho Legislature's commitment to higher education is dropping sharply — something like $64 million from four years ago.  (The TV ads for the "Go on" campaign are courtesy of the Albertsons Foundation, by the way.)

Mark Browning, the communications guy for the Idaho State Board of Education, shared that information when he stopped by today for a quick, informal update on the financial outlook for his state's colleges and universities.  As with other states, it isn't pretty.

Demand is up, both for undergraduate and graduate programs. A lot of the applications are coming from Californians whose higher out-of-state tuition helps foot the in-state students' bill.  California has capped enrollment in its institutions.

Idaho's $5,500 tuition (it will go up after the state board meets April 20 and 21 in Moscow) is relatively low, but Idaho's personal income levels are too.  Looking at the ratios, Browning puts it this way.  For an average family of four, enrolling a youngster in an Idaho University requires a higher financial commitment than qualifying for a mortgage.

State and federal student aid programs are retrenching, meaning the pattern of college graduates entering the work force — make that the work search force — with a mountain of debt to pay off is not about to change soon.

State Board: Tuition hikes may exceed 10 percent next year

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The state Board of Education will once again allow Idaho’s public universities to seek tuition and fee increases of more than 10 percent. Trustees voted 7-1 on Thursday to temporarily waive the board policy that prohibits requests for tuition increases of more than 10 percent for full-time students. Board members have stressed that the one-year waiver does not mean they will automatically approve the higher tuition and fee requests in April. The board waived the policy last year, but did not approve any increases above 10 percent. Students at Idaho universities and colleges are now paying between 8.75 percent to 9.5 percent more in tuition and fees compared to last year.

Ed Board votes 5-1 to waive 10 percent cap on tuition hikes for one year

Idaho’s State Board of Education has voted 5-1 to waive its 10 percent cap on tuition and fee increases for state colleges and universities for one year. The lone dissenter was board member Ken Edmunds. We know this thanks to the very efficient Twitter posts of board spokesman Mark Browning, who has been sending up-to-the-minute tweets all day on the action at the State Board meeting in Twin Falls. The move is designed to allow flexibility for colleges and universities as they plan for next year in the face of state budget cuts and swelling college enrollments.

Earlier, the board voted unanimously to approve a deal with J.R. Simplot Co. to save the Parma university extension research center; extension centers at Sandpoint and Tetonia are now guaranteed funding through June 30, the end of the current fiscal year. All three were threatened by budget cuts.

State Ed Board to consider waiving 10% cap on tuition hikes

Idaho’s State Board of Education will decide tomorrow whether to temporarily waive its rule that caps tuition and fee increases for state colleges and universities at 10 percent a year. It’s not that any school has proposed a larger increase; the board is being proactive and taking up the issue long before tuition for next year will be set in April. Board spokesman Mark Browning said the idea is to decide early whether the state’s higher education institutions should have more flexibility on that issue as they contemplate next year’s budget in a time of sharp state budget cuts and fast-growing student populations. This year, tuition and fee increases ranged from 7 percent at Lewis-Clark State College to 5 percent at Boise State University.

The board imposed the 10 percent cap out of concern that increases were getting out of hand in the early part of the decade, Browning said. But there’s also concern about cutting college offerings when enrollment is swelling. “It’s a very tough balancing act for the board,” he said.

Fees, tuition and enabling bills for local taxes starting to add up…

The House will hold its first hearing Friday morning on a proposal to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for health care by boosting the sales tax about a third of a cent for three years. But as Olympia struggles to agree on a major tax plan to send to voters in November, they’re also talking about a lot of small things that will never appear on any ballot — but that are still likely to cost you.

Click the link below to read the story.

Bill to toss out limits on tuition increases, new study of effects of a 14 percent tuition hike…

Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, this morning introduced HB 2344, which would do away with the existing 7 percent limit on tuition increases at the state’s four-year colleges.

Under the bill, lawmakers would set tuition levels every two years when they write the budget.

Haigh suggests that higher tuition is better than the $700 million in higher ed budget cuts proposed in the House budget. College officials have said that that would mean thousands of layoffs and would force many students to stay in school for a semester or a year more in order to get into classes needed to graduate.

“We cannot afford to choose between quality and access,” she said in a statement. “The demand for higher education is higher than ever, and the need for a highly educated workforce is growing. We are not doing right by students when we close the door to a college dream, and we are not doing right by our state when we cut the flow of educated workers into our workforce.”

(Side note: Committee staffer Debbie Driver’s bill report, by the way, has an excellent breakdown of tuition increase limits over the past 8 years in Washington. The short form: they’ve fluctuated wildly, from 3.6 percent (2000-2001) to 16 percent for the biggest schools during the last state budget crisis in 2002-2003.)

As if in response, the Economic Opportunity Institute also happened to issue this policy brief this morning. Written by Gabriel Nishimura, it blasts lawmakers idea of a high-tuition, high-financial-aid model for the state’s colleges. Among the findings:

-sticker shock from high tuition drives away low-income and minority students,
-top students are more likely to go to private colleges instead,
-quality drops as schools shift around money to try to compensate for the high tuition costs,
-and the financial aid is heavy on loans that students are saddled with upon graduation.

There’s a lot of good data in the report. Among the facts cited: the average University of Washington undergraduate today walks away with a degree and $16,481 in debt.


Trying to get a weekend story done, so I’ll let others do the talking:

-Joe Turner, on why big tuition hikes at Washington’s state colleges may be in the works,

-Rich Nafziger, on why that would be a bad, bad idea,

-Jim Camden, on how Peter Goldmark is the first Eastern Washingtonian to win statewide office in “…well, a really long time,”

-Jim Camden again, on the looming applets and cotlets battle in Olympia,

-Brad Shannon, on lawmakers who’ve battled cancer,

and, last but not least, Randy Stapilus, declaring that the most influential Washingtonian of 2008 was…Dino Rossi. (Hat tip to Adam Wilson.)